OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 10 nationally-ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team lived on the edge again Saturday, in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor, rallying from losing the doubles point to defeat Arkansas 4-3 at the Gillom Sports Center. The Rebels will face Indiana or Columbia Sunday in the final, before the men’s basketball team takes on Arkansas at 6 p.m. at Tad Smith Coliseum.
“That’s college tennis,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. It’s so close. Just a hit here or a hit there as to who is going to win it. I like this team proving we can win four out of six singles.”
In their second 4-3 match in less than a week, the Rebels found themselves in familiar territory. The match came down to the bottom half of the lineup just as it did in the Rebs 4-3 win over Mississippi State. With the Razorbacks ahead 3-2, sophomore Chris Thiemann closed out Arkansas’ Nikolas Zogaj 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 singles, and then freshman Adrian Forberg Skogeng finished off Razorback Taylor King 7-5, 6-2 to clinch the victory
“It was a great feeling (on clinching),” Forberg Skogeng said. “He was close to breaking me many times, so it was good that I could close it out on my serve. It’s definitely harder when you have to win four of the six singles matches, but we are strong top to bottom. We know that we can win every match.”
Thiemann agreed that it’s much harder when you lose the doubles point.
“It was really disappointing that we couldn’t take the doubles point,” Thiemann said. “Like Adrian said, it’s hard to get four of six singles. But, we played a little better than against (State). My match started off ok. It gave me confidence that Harry won the first set as did Adrian. I am happy I was able to serve it out in the second.”
Ole Miss had a chance to take the doubles point after winning on court three and holding two match points on court two with the Thiemann twins of Marcel and Chris up 6-4 in the tiebreaker. Arkansas would win four straight points to clinch the first point of the match.
Freshman Jonas Lutjen, playing just his second college match, downed UA’s Dmitry Lebedev 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 singles to put the Rebels on the board. Marcel Thiemann gave Ole Miss a brief 2-1 lead with his 6-1, 6-4 straight set win over Matt Hogan at No. 2 singles.
It was short-lived as Arkansas answered when 81st-ranked Chris Nott defeated 49th-ranked Tucker Vorster 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.
Ole Miss won the first set on the last three matches. However, Arkansas rallied to take the match at No. 5 to go ahead 3-2. Freshman Harry Fowler won the first against Greg Lehmann 6-1, but Lehmann was too strong after that, taking the second and third sets by the same score of 6-1.
“There was improvement in our play today,” Chadwick said. “Both of the teams we could play (Sunday) look to be at the same level as the teams we played in our last two matches. So we expect another close one Sunday.”
Chadwick added that beating two teams from the SEC in its first two matches is huge for the team.
“And the thing that is so important is that these guys are learning to win the close matches and starting to believe in themselves.”
The Rebels will be going for their 17th straight trip to the National Team Indoor Final 16.
#10 Ole Miss 4
#54 Arkansas 3
1. Nott/Lebedev (UA) def. Vorster/Lutjen (OM) 9-8(5)
2. Hogan/Matt Walters (UA) def. Thiemann/Thiemann (OM) 9-8(6)
3. Forberg Skogeng/Fowler (OM) def. King/Zogaj (UA) 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Chris Nott (UA) def. Tucker Vorster (OM) 6-3, 6-3
2. Marcel Thiemann (OM) def. Matt Hogan (OM) 6-1, 6-4
3. Jonas Lutjen (OM) def. Dmitry Lebedev (UA) 6-2, 6-2
4. Adrian Forberg Skogeng (OM) def. Taylor King (UA) 7-5, 6-2
5. Greg Lehmann (UA) def. Harry Fowler (OM) 1-6, 6-1, 6-1
6. Chris Thiemann (OM) def. Nikolas Zogaj (UA) 6-3, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1, 5, 6, 4