BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 2 nationally ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team punched its ticket to the “Sweet Sixteen” Saturday with a 4-2 win over LSU in the second round of the NCAA Championships here at the Dub Robinson Stadium.
With the Rebels up 3-2, freshman Devin Britton of Jackson, Miss., finished off a comeback win over LSU’s James Cluskey at No. 2 singles to clinch the win. Britton lsot the first set 6-4, but came on strong in the second and third 6-1, 6-3 to clinch his second straight big match for the Rebels, after also clinching the SEC Tournament Championship.
“Our guys knew how hard they would have to work to beat LSU, and that’s exactly what they did, top to bottom just fighting everywhere,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “Devin has that great ability to move it to another gear, and that is what you saw. He picked it up and handled it like a senior. My hat’s off to Devin.”
The Rebels, who set the school record for most wins in a season (26-2) have now advanced to the round of 16 15 times, including five straight years. LSU ends its season at 11-12.
When the two teams last met in Baton Rouge during the regular season, LSU took the opening point. This time, the Rebels were ready and came out strong in the doubles to go up 1-0. Devin Britton and Tucker Vorster defeated Sebastian Carlsson and Julien Gauthier 8-4 at No. 2. In a battle between the nation’s top two doubles teams, LSU’s No. 2 ranked team of Michael Venus and Neal Skupski beat No. 1 Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge 8-5. Kalle Norberg and Otto Sauer finished off the point by topping Mark Bowtell and James Cluskey 8-5 on court three for their fifth win in a row. The Rebels are now 21-1 this year when winning the doubles point.
LSU evened the match when Sebastian Carlsson defeated Otto Sauer 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 singles. They took a 2-1 advantage when sixth-ranked Venus defeated 16th-ranked Berg 6-1, 7-6 at the top spot.
Ole Miss answered with consecutive wins from the freshmen twins of Chris and Marcel Thiemann at the bottom two courts. Chris won his match over Cody Loup 6-4, 6-2 at six, and then Marcel finished off LSU’s Bowtell 6-3, 6-3 at five to give the Rebels the 3-2 lead.
The Rebels will face the winner of the Texas A&M/Arizona match Thursday in the round of 16.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS SECOND ROUND – BATON ROUGE, La.
1. Venus/Skupski (LSU) def. Berg/ten Berge (OM) 8-5
2. Britton/Tucker Vorster (OM) def. Carlsson/Gauthier (LSU) 8-4
3. Norberg/Sauer (OM) def. Bowtell/Cluskey (LSU) 8-5
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Michael Venus (LSU) def. Jonas Berg (OM) 6-1, 7-6
2. Devin Britton (OM) def. James Cluskey (LSU) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
3. Kalle Norberg (OM) vs. Neal Skupski (LSU) 6-3, 3-4, sus.
4. Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) def. Otto Sauer (OM) 6-3, 6-1
5. Marcel Thiemann (OM) def. Mark Bowtell (LSU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Chris Thiemann (OM) def. Cody Loup (LSU) 6-4, 6-2
Order of Finish: 4, 1, 6, 5, 2