JACKSON - Erling Tveit, playing No. 1 singles, was at war in his match with Mississippi State's No. 1 player Ivan Bjelica. Tveit, fighting through some back pains he had experienced for a couple of days, played well early and won the first set 6-4. Bjelica fought back to take set two 7-5. It was anybody's match in set three.
But Tveit is a strong and talented left-handed player, another in the mold of Billy Chadwick No. 1 players at Ole Miss. When the going got tough - bad back and all - Tveit dug down deep, like Chadwick players normally do.
The sophomore Norwegian trailed Bjelica 4-5 in the third and held serve to make it 5-5. Then he broke Bjelica, who had himself gotten stronger as the match moved on. Tveit said at that point, however, it was all over as far as he was concerned.
"When I got the break at 5-all (in the third set), I knew I was going to win," Tveit said humbly but matter of factly. And the Rebels had their 16th win in a row over Mississippi State in men's tennis including seven straight Mississippi Cup titles.
"We knew it was going to be a tough match, and it was," said veteran Rebel head coach Billy Chadwick. "This whole match can be summed up by that No. 1 singles match. It looked like we were in control, and the next thing you know we're fighting for our lives. Hats off to Erling and all the guys because they really fought hard when they needed to. We weren't even sure Erling was going to play. He really came through for us."
Tveit said it was a tough match for him, especially with the pain.
"I almost wasn't sure I was going to get to play," Tveit said. "I had been in a lot of pain. But I kept playing and even was a little down at times. But the crowd was really good, and when I got the break (at 5-5 in the third to move to 6-5), I closed it out. Fortunately I was hitting first serves, and that helped a lot."
Chadwick said it was indeed the ability by his players to find that extra something that put them over the top against MSU - again.
"When it got time to close the match out, Eric (Claesson), Bram (ten Berge), and especially Erling (Tveit) really focused hard and worked hard," Chadwick said. "I was proud of them. That really is a great State team, and it will serve both of us very well to have this type of match this early in the season."
After the Rebels won the doubles point, Bram at No. 3 was the first singles to win, followed by Eric at No. 2 and finally Erling at No. 3.
In other matches that were called when the Rebs secured the victory, Ole Miss' Juan Pablo Di Cesare had begun his match at No. 4 singles against Mississippi State's Philippe Frayssinoux, and also at No. 5 singles Rebel Robbye Poole had just begun his match against Bulldog Florent Girod. At No. 6 singles, Rebel Jakob Klaeson and Bulldog Ryan Farlow had not begun their match at all.
Other comments from Ole Miss players after another victory in the Mississippi Cup:
Bram ten Berge - "I felt at the beginning of the match, both of us (he and MSU's Pierre Mouillon) were pretty nervous. We both made a lot of mistakes. But I felt I was the one who picked up my play first and got some balls in play. I was able to win the first set, and then he got up very quickly 3-0 in the second. But I was able to come back to 3-3. He actually took that set, but I was strong in the third set. I never really got tired. Last year in this match, it was my first big dual match (between two teams). This year I knew what was coming. But that doesn't make the match this year less tense. It's such a big match. It always comes down to a couple of points and a couple of games. It did again tonight."
Eric Claesson - "We know they are a good team. I didn't play as well in the second set as I did the first set. We have confidence against them. We've won so many times, I think we have so much confidence and it is harder for them since we have beaten them so many times. I really didn't feel very comfortable out there. I didn't really hit the ball well at all. I was able to pick it up in the tiebreaker and finish the match."
#1 Tveit/Claesson (OM) vs. Bjelica/Pinto (MSU) 6-4 OM, sus.
#2 ten Berge/Klaeson (OM) def. Mouillon/Frayssinoux (MSU)
#3 Di Cesare/Poole (OM) def. Farlow/Girod (MSU) 8-4
#1 Erling Tveit (OM) def. Ivan Bjelica (MSU) 6-4, 5-7, 7-5
#2 Eric Claesson (OM) def. Jose' Carlos Pinto (MSU) 6-2, 7-6(4)
#3 Bram ten Berge (OM) def. Pierre Mouillon (MSU) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
#4 Juan Pablo Di Cesare (OM) vs. Philippe Frayssinoux (MSU)
#5 Robbye Poole (OM) vs. Florent Girod (MSU) 1-0 MSU, sus.
#6 Jakob Klaeson (OM) vs. Ryan Farlow (MSU) DNP
Ole Miss wins Mississippi Cup again
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