Ole Miss Women’s Tennis kicked off the 2019 spring semester by hosting dual matches against Purdue on Saturday and Michigan on Sunday.
The weekend tournament between Ole Miss, Purdue, No. 9 Michigan and No. 24 Syracuse was the first official competition for the Rebels since a historic 2018 season in which Arianne Hartono became the first player in program history to win the NCAA Singles Championship and SEC Player of the Year honors.
The Rebels traveled to Honolulu on Jan. 18 for the Weinman Foundation Invitational to face Hawaii and Washington.
“These were extremely valuable matches we had this weekend,” head coach Mark Beyers said after the West Coast trip. “There is no substitute for keeping score and having to deal with the ups and downs of playing a match.”
The ITA Kickoff Weekend at the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center proved to be a rollercoaster of an outing for the No. 12-ranked Ole Miss team. The Rebels dropped the opener against Purdue 4-3 on Saturday.
Although the Rebels secured the doubles point with rally wins from Tereza Janatova and Anna Vrbenska as well as Alexa Bortles and Allie Sanford, the Rebels lost four of the six singles matches that followed.
Sophomore Sabina Machalova fell to No. 19 Silvia Ambrosio in first singles, which was one of five tightly contested singles matches that were brought to tiebreakers. Janatova and Bortles were the only Rebels to come out on top in the singles round.
The tough loss on Saturday put the Rebels in position to face No. 9 Michigan. The Wolverines claimed the doubles point first and continued that success through the singles round.
The Rebels were unable to topple Michigan’s four nationally ranked players. No. 3-ranked Kate Fahey and the Wolverines won three of the six singles matches in two sets to secure the 4-0 decision.
Fahey beat No. 68 Machalova in the first singles match 6-3, 6-3. Vrbenska and Sanford also lost in two sets, leaving Tea Jandric, Bortles and Janatova unfinished despite strong performances in the first two sets.
The Rebels stay in Oxford for the whole month of February before starting conference play in Gainesville, Fla., on March 1. Ole Miss was picked to finish No. 5 in the SEC Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
Ole Miss returns seven lettermen from the 2018 squad that went 22-7 and made waves in the postseason. The veteran lineup includes All-American junior Alexa Bortles as well as three All-SEC selections in Jandric, Machalova and Vrbenska.
The Rebels’ next matchup is on Sunday against Tulane in the Galtney Indoor Tennis Center at noon.