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AUBURN, Ala. – While the official “Egg Bowl” is a little more than a month away, the rivalry will play out on the tennis courts Monday morning at the Yarbrough Tennis Center on the campus of Auburn University as Ole Miss men’s tennis sophomore Nik Scholtz meets Mississippi State freshman Romain Bogaerts for the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Singles Championship. The two will face off at 10 a.m. with a berth in the USTA/ITA National Indoor on the line.
Scholtz, the No. 1 seed in the regional, had to beat his own teammate, William Kallberg, Sunday morning, to reach the final. Kallberg, seeded sixth in the field, which included SEC teams State, LSU, Alabama and host Auburn, came into the match without dropping a set.
In a tightly contested match, Scholtz won a first set tiebreaker, 7-6(6). He carried the momentum over to the second set taking it 6-3 to reach the final in his first ever Southern Regional.
“It’s exciting to be in the finals, but never fun to beat your teammate, who is also a good friend,” Scholtz tweeted moments after the win.
Scholtz, the highest ranked player in the SEC at No. 5 in the nation, improved his fall record to 6-1, while Kallberg, ranked No. 56, moved his record to 9-3.
While it’s not fun for teammates to play each other, it’s fun for the coaches to just be able to sit back and enjoy the match without having to coach.
“It was nice to be guaranteed a finalist for the third year in a row,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “Nik and William both played a good match. William played some great tennis this weekend, and we are really proud of him. We are looking forward to the final against Bogaerts, who will be one of the top newcomers in our conference.”
Scholtz will be looking to join his teammate, senior Jonas Lutjen, in the USTA/ITA National Indoor, which takes place Nov. 8-11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Lutjen earned a berth in the field by winning the consolation draw at the ITA All-American Championships.
In the consolation singles final, junior Johan Backstrom won twice on Sunday to win the draw. In the morning he defeated MSU’s Zach White 6-4, 6-3 and then in the afternoon, he rallied to beat LSU’s Roger Anderson 3-6, 6-3, 10-5. Backstrom improved to 11-5 this fall.
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USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships
Semifinals -- Nik Scholtz (OM) def. William Kallberg (OM) 7-6(6), 6-3.
Semifinals – Johan Backstrom (OM) def. Zach White (MSU) 6-4, 6-3. Final – Backstrom (OM) def. Roger Anderson (LSU) 3-6, 6-3, 10-5.