Netters Knocked Out

In its 16th appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and first since 2009, Ole Miss won the doubles point, but came up short in the singles matches losing to fourth-seeded UCLA 4-1 in a four-hour marathon match. The 13th-seeded Rebels finish the 2012 season with a 15-9 overall record.

"You have to hand it to UCLA," Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick said. "They did a very, very good job of playing well in the singles. We took the doubles point and put some pressure on them, and they did a great job in their first sets (of singles). I felt like that we did an exceptional job of coming back. Even at No. 6 singles in the third set, it was really, really tight. We had two games that we had break points in and they came up with big shots on those break points, so you have to hand it to them."

The 14th-ranked doubles team of Jonas Lutjen and Nik Scholtz won back-to-back break points to go ahead 6-4 and closed out the match 8-5 to win at No. 1 doubles against the 44th-ranked doubles team of Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget from UCLA.

"You saw Nik really show he was a freshman at the start of the doubles because he missed a couple of shots that he doesn't usually miss, he got broken," Chadwick said. "The thing that was impressive was that he did an excellent job of rebounding in the doubles and winning convincingly."

Then, Johan Backstrom and William Kallberg clinched the doubles point for Ole Miss in dramatic fashion.

Backstrom battled off two UCLA break points to even the match and remain on serve at 6-6. In the tiebreaker, the Rebels took a 4-0 lead, including two breaks, before the Bruins rallied with four straight points of their own.

Ole Miss looked to go ahead 5-3 on a cross-court winner from Kallberg but was called for a fault when he inadvertently touched the net on his return. On the next point, Kallberg broke another serve to go ahead 5-4 and served out the next two points to win the match and the doubles point 9-8(4).

"The doubles point on this level is almost always up for grabs," Chadwick said. "I felt like we did a better job than them at just being determined and finding a way to win.

"The thing that was impressive – (Backstrom and Kallberg) got a little unlucky with a foot fault called on a point that we won and then lost a pretty easy point where he (Kallberg) touched the net. It went from an easy tiebreaker to where they had to work to get it."

The Rebels were unable to carry the momentum from doubles play into singles play against UCLA. The Bruins won the first set on all six courts and took the singles points at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles in straight sets.

"It was one of those (things) where Nik's match could have gone either way," Chadwick said. "They're strong at two and three (singles). I felt like that we kind of let number three get away from us. They played extremely well at five.

"And we did a really good job at four and six of being able to stay in there, but we came up a little short in four and then on six. When we ran the distance, they edged us."

46th-ranked Adrien Puget won his 21st-straight match and evened the match for UCLA with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Backstrom at No. 5 singles.

Kallberg, ranked No. 83 in the nation, was serving to extend the second set when 84th-ranked Marcos Giron broke his serve to win 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.

Lutjen, ranked No. 45 in the nation, was broken at 4-4 in the first set and then his first two serves in the second set and lost Dennis Novikov 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 singles.

Meanwhile, after losing the first set 6-4, Chris Thiemann forced a tiebreaker at No. 6 singles against Dennis Mkrtchian. Trailing 3-1 in the tiebreaker after his first serve was broken, Thiemann held the next serve and broke Mkrtchian on his next two serve to take a 4-3 lead in the tiebreaker. Thiemann held his next two serves and broke Mkrtchian on his second serve to win the set 7-6(4).

"They're seniors, and they've been here before, so I felt that they knew exactly what it would take," Chadwick said of the Thiemanns. "Any of these matches can be turned at any particular point in time. As a team, we did an excellent job of staying in it, finding a way to really push them and, if we get a little lucky, we're still playing right now."

The momentum began to turn for Ole Miss with Marcel Thiemann and Nik Scholtz still on the court at No. 2 singles and No. 1 singles after Chris Thiemann battled back in the second set tiebreaker to force a third set at No. 6 singles.

"You can feel when there's a momentum shift, you can hear the guys being louder and more positive and there's more energy," Scholtz said. "You definitely feel that when you're playing out there, so that definitely helps us a lot."

Leading 5-4 after holding serve, 20th-ranked Marcel Thiemann forced a third set at No. 2 singles when he broke the serve of 16th-ranked Nick Meister.

After losing the first set in an 18-point tiebreaker, 14th-ranked Nik Scholtz broke the serve of 62nd- ranked Clay Thompson three straight times to win the second set 6-2 at No. 1 singles.

As third set action continued at No. 1 singles for Scholtz and No. 2 singles for Marcel Thiemann, Chris Thiemann held his first two serves at No. 6 singles to remain tied at 2-2, but was broken on his next two serves and lost the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 to clinch the win for UCLA.

Looking ahead to next season, Marcel and Chris Thiemann will be gone, but Chadwick and Ole Miss returns the rest of the team, led freshman Nik Scholtz and junior Jonas Lutjen.

"The thing that I'm excited about is that we have a great core of kids coming back next year, and we're going to have our sights on winning the championship," Chadwick said. "This was a very good year for us. We'll take it, we're not satisfied, we'll work a little bit harder and next year we're going for the gold."

Four Rebels will continue their seasons and compete in the NCAA Individual Championships. Scholtz is seeded 9-16 in singles and will be joined in the 64-player draw by two-time quarterfinalist Marcel Thiemann and Lutjen. Ole Miss will also have two teams in the doubles field with Scholtz/Lutjen and the Thiemanns.

"The NCAA Tournament is something you look forward to the whole year and we definitely want to play well and make the most of the opportunity," Scholtz said. "Jonas and I have been playing really well lately, and we have high hopes."

The draws for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be announced Tuesday, May 22.

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