JACKSON - It wasn't total domination when Ole Miss and Mississippi State met in men's tennis Thursday night, but it almost was.
The same could be said for all the recent matches in this series. It hasn't been total domination by Ole Miss, but almost.
The Rebels' latest win over the Bulldogs was a 4-0 victory in the Mississippi Cup at River Hills Club. Coach Billy Chadwick's program now has won 14 straight against the arch-rival.
In Mississippi Cup action, Ole Miss now leads 6-2 and has won six in a row since losing the first two. The last three have been by 4-0 scores. The last five matches overall have been shutout wins for UM.
Total domination? About as close as you can get; certainly when you are playing your arch-rival.
Chadwick says that while the ledger has shown Ole Miss victories the past 14 times the two have met, it is never easy.
"The reason we've been successful is that our guys just don't look at any past records or anything but the match at hand," said the veteran Rebel coach. "They just focus in, and it was another new match for them tonight. Actually for three of the guys, it was their first experience here. To come away with a victory is a great way to start the season off. The freshmen really came through."
Those three "new" guys were important cogs in the Rebel machine in Jackson. Freshmen Bram ten Berge, Jakob Klaeson, and Erling Tveit were all integral parts of the Rebels' win over State.
ten Berge teammed with Klaeson to win the No. 3 doubles match as the last match on of the three doubles, sealing the doubles point for the Rebels.
In singles play, ten Berge won the clinching match with a dramatic comeback in three sets. ten Berge lost the first set 0-6 but came back to win the second set 6-3 and the third 6-4.
"I started awful because I was nervous," ten Berge said of his singles play. "It was a big rival team and I knew that. I came out in the second set and settled down and figured out how to beat their guy. The coaches helped me some and I was able to keep doing what I should do. And it worked."
Chadwick was impressed with the play of senior Catalin Gard, still ranked No. 1 in collegiate tennis, who won the first set 6-3 but fell behind 3-4 in the second before rallying to win 6-4 and take his match.
"You could just see at 3-4 in the second set, it was like Cat said, 'Allright, enough of this,' and it was great to see that," Chadwick said. "Cat really played well but so did a lot of our guys."
Gard said he started out well, had a little lull, but then turned it on toward the end of the match.
"I adjusted my game during the match and was able to come back strong," Gard said. "I feel like I am continuing to get better and better every match, and I am trying to continue to stay on top of my game. It was a great atmosphere tonight and all the guys really played well."
Like Eric Claesson, who won the No. 2 singles 6-3, 6-2 and also the No. 2 doubles match, teaming with Tveit.
"Eric played for us last year and had a good record at Nos. 5 and 6," Chadwick said. "It's great to see him stepping up and playing so well now even higher in the lineup. We are trying to find out if we can hold our own in the top half of the lineup. We are seeing that we can with performances like Claesson had tonight."
Singles matches four and five (Tveit and Klaeson for the Rebels) had begun when the match was stopped after ten Berge sealed it with his victory at No. 3 singles. The No. 6 singles player for the Rebels, Juan Pablo DiCesare, had not begun his match.
One Rebel who would most likely have been in the lineup was sophomore Fredrik Aarum, but he was sidelined with the flu.
"This win was a big step for our team, a giant step really, especially for our younger players," Chadwick said. "We're very pleased with this win tonight."
The Rebels, 3-0 on the season, now travel to Chicagoland for matches, starting with Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Feb. 15, followed by the ITA National Team indoor in Chicago Feb. 17-20.
Ole Miss continues domination over MSU
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