As the fall season continues to roll on, the Ole Miss men’s tennis team looks for continued success and momentum heading into the spring season.
The team ended a successful 2012-13 campaign by finishing 10th in the nation with a 16-9 record, winning their 10th SEC West title and making their 20th consecutive NCAA appearance. They look to build on that success through the fall and into the spring season.
One of the key players for the team this season is junior Nik Scholtz, who ended last season’s campaign ranked 17th in the nation in singles and fourth in doubles. Scholtz entered this season as No. 7.
Head coach Billy Chadwick has high hopes for Scholtz and understands the pressure that surrounds him.
“Well it always is a lot of pressure on Nik because not only is he one of the top players on the team, he’s one of the top players in the nation,” Chadwick said. “Any time he steps on the court he’s expected to win. He expects it himself, and our fans expect it too. A lot of pressure goes with that.”
Scholtz headed into the USTA/ITA Southern Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the defending champion in singles play, but could not repeat as he lost in the finals 7-6(4), 6-2 to Mississippi State’s Malte Stropp.
“When he reached the finals, he was playing a guy that really tested his perseverance,” Chadwick said. “Nik learned some lessons from it. That’s what his college experience is. It’s learning to really, for him, to be competitive every second that he’s out there. He’s got the tools, and we’re looking for great things from him this spring.”
Junior William Kallberg and sophomore Stefan Lindmark won the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Doubles Championship and punched their ticket to New York for the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships that begin Nov. 7. The win by Kallberg and Lindmark clinched the fourth year in a row that Ole Miss will be represented in New York.
“It is really exciting to see the improvement they have made in doubles,” Chadwick said. “William and Stefan make a real good team. They communicate well together. What they’re really able to do is really win some tight matches and keep their focus. It was a well deserved trip to New York.”
Chadwick added that even though Scholtz lost in the singles finals at the Southern Regional, he is likely to receive a spot in the Indoor Championship in New York.
The Rebels are currently participating in USTA Futures tournaments that run through Nov. 10.
The Indoor Championships will be the last action the Rebels get this fall. After that, their attention will turn towards the spring season that kicks off with the Georgia Tech Invitational Jan. 17.
Ole Miss begins Southeastern Conference play on Feb. 28, and Chadwick expects his team to “be right in the thick of things” when conference play rolls around.
“Tennis is the toughest sport in the SEC on a national level,” Chadwick said. “That’s what makes it fun playing in this conference. There’s no such thing as an easy match, and that’s the reason why when it gets to be NCAA time it’s really beneficial having all those tough matches. It really gets you ready.”