Fans packed the Gillom Sports Center Friday afternoon for the 2006 Ole Miss men's tennis season opener against 32nd-ranked Louisville, and the No. 6 nationally-ranked Rebels didn't disappoint, coming away with a hard-fought 5-1 win.
With the victory, the Rebels have now won 26 straight regular season home matches dating back to April 6, 2003.
"This was an excellent win over a very good Louisville team," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "We knew it would be a big test for us to open the season. Erling did an outstanding job at No. 1 singles and Eric fought hard and clinched it for us. Robbye made a great showing in his debut.
"This was a total team effort from top to bottom, and we definitely want to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us. They were great the entire match and it really pumped the guys up. This is going to be another exciting year."
Louisville got on the board first with an 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles. After Ole Miss won at No. 1 doubles, 8-4, all eyes turned to court three, where Ole Miss' Juan Pablo Di Cesare and newcomer Robbye Poole were locked in a tight battle against the Cardinal team of Slavko Radman and Tony Teufel.
Di Cesare and Poole served for the doubles point at 7-6, but the Louisville pair broke. The match would go to a tiebreaker in which Louisville gained a 3-1 advantage and one point before Ole Miss tied it up. Down 3-6, the Rebel duo pulled to within 5-6, but Radman and Teufel secured the next point to clinch the first point.
The Rebels new it would be a tough match against the Cardinals, who made the NCAA Championships in 2005 and won 22 matches. The two teams played three tiebreakers in singles, and Ole Miss won all of them to propel them to victory.
Sophomore Erling Tveit, in his debut at No. 1 singles, was impressive in closing out his match against the Cardinal's Damar Johnson, in a second set tiebreaker. After winning the first set 6-4, Tveit had to battle in the second set and eventually came out on top in the tiebreaker, 10-8.
Seconds after Tveit finished, sophomore Bram ten Berge wrapped up his second set tiebreaker against Louisville's Jakob Gustafsson for a 6-3, 7-6(6) win to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
In his debut for the Rebels, sophomore Robbye Poole gave fans quite a show, downing Jhonny Berrido, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 singles to put the Rebels within one of clinching.
Sophomore Eric Claesson has been in these types of situations before when it was all on the line and he was the only one left on court. This time however, he had two teammates still out there playing. After splitting sets with the Cardinal's Radman, the two went to a third set tiebreaker. With the crowd screaming behind him, Claesson came up with several great shots to close out Radman, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) and win his 20th match of the year.
The Rebels will be off until Feb. 5 when they host Louisiana-Lafayette at 1 p.m. at the Gillom Sports Center.
Rebs take care of tennis Cards
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