The Ole Miss men's tennis team spent Saturday morning putting away a tough Texas Tech Red Raider team in the Sweet Sixteen. They are spending the rest of the day and night recovering.
The Texas heat. Brutal. The players. Refilling their bodies with liquids and staying out of the sun until late on Sunday morning prior to the Elite Eight match with Georgia at 1 p.m.
"I looked out there and Freddie's just melting," said Coach Billy Chadwick of the Rebels' No. 5 singles player Fredrik Aarum who lost his match 6-4, 6-3. "It's tough to really explain how hot it is unless you're playing in it."
Eric Claesson at No. 2 singles was coming back in his match, having lost 0-6 in the first set and was down only 4-5 in the second when the Rebs clinched. Claesson had been under the weather with a sore throat and some weakness a week ago. Had the Rebels needed his win against Texas Tech, that might have been tough for Eric to do in a third set.
Chadwick said Eric was better from his recent bout and feels he is OK now. His Red Raider opponent might also have been that team's best player, according to Chadwick.
"My hat's off to Eric for coming back and making that one close."
Bram ten Berge at No. 6 singles, who lost his match 7-6 (1) and 6-1, didn't seem to have a problem with the heat but it might have been some singles rust that affected him.
Ten Berge hadn't played singles in two months because of a sore wrist. The freshman uses a two-hand backhand. It is on his backhand that the wrist bothers him. It hasn't gotten a whole lot better. TenBerge is learning to play tennis all over again - as far as the backhand is concerned anyway - by using a one-hand backhand.
"Bram seemed to handle the heat pretty well, but his problem today might have been just a lack of singles play lately," Chadwick said.
That Ten Berge was in the singles lineup at all might have been somewhat of a surprise.
"I wanted to play (freshman) Jakob Klaeson, but he knew their No. 6 player very well since both are from Sweden," Chadwick said. "They had played each other before, so I made the change. I didn't want their player to play one of our players whose game he already knew."
So enter Ten Berge who had a good first set, then seemed to fall off a bit after losing the tiebreaker.
Erling Tveit, another freshman, eased past his foe 6-4, 7-5. But it was senior Catalin Gard at No. 1 that Chadwick said did what he normally does.
"Cat led us and he was just at his best again," said the veteran Rebel coach of his No. 1, world-class, top player who won 6-2, 6-3. "He (and Claesson) controlled the doubles and got that set first. And he really beat a great player in his singles match. Tech relies on the top of their lineup, and getting wins at No. 1 and No. 3 singles really helped our cause."
Along with Gard and Claesson, it was the duo of Klaeson and ten Berge who got the second match for the Rebs to claim the important doubles point.
Just like Sunday against Auburn, it was Juan Pablo DiCesare that closed it out for Ole Miss. At 3-2, the Rebs needed one more win at either No. 4 singles (Juan Pablo) or at No. 2 singles (Claesson).
"Pablo is just playing so strong right now," Chadwick said. "He has been so clutch for us lately, and we have needed that."
Chadwick was also impressed with Tveit's win at No. 3.
"Erling beat a player that was actually their No. 1 player last year," Chadwick said. "Erling really stepped up and made it 3-1 in the match, which was big for us."
Chadwick said the team now gets ready for Georgia and the heat of a south Texas Sunday afternoon.
"We're going to be getting plenty of liquids from now until match time," he said. "We're going to stay inside. We've got to be at our best in this upcoming match. We've got some players who are anxious to play like Jakob and Karim Alayli. We've got some options. We've got some depth."
Georgia, seeded sixth in this event, beat Ole Miss 5-2 on Easter Sunday in Athens, a match that was forced inside after it started when rains came. It was the lone setback in the SEC regular season for the Rebels, the third seed.
"Georgia beat LSU today by taking the doubles point and really stepping up in singles," Chadwick said. "It'll be a tough battle Sunday, a bigtime match. We'll be ready."
Chadwick's Rebs face Georgia - again
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