Rebels to host men's tennis regional again

Oxford will be the site of an NCAA men's tennis regional for the seventh time in eight years on May 13-14.

Billy Chadwick and the Ole Miss men's tennis team saw the words they wanted to see pop up on the TV screen at Wednesday night's selection show gathering at Downtown Grill.

"Oxford, Mississippi" flashed up on the screen during the second half of the 64-team bracket announcement as teams from Ole Miss, Florida State, Auburn, and Belmont University were listed in that Oxford bracket.

"This is a tough draw and we'll have to play well with these teams in our bracket," said Chadwick following the event that drew a couple of hundred fans, alums, supporters, townspeople, and Chancellor Robert Khayat. "Florida State is ranked 17th, but they had some losses early in the season when they had some injuries. They've played really well lately.

"Auburn is a tough team that we have played this year, and they have been here a couple of times before for a Regional. We don't know a lot about Belmont, and so we will have to do some research. But they obviously are a good team since they are in the field. They won their conference and that's how they got in. They traditionally have a good team."

Ole Miss is hosting a Regional for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. The top 16 teams host. Chadwick held his breath a bit this time because the computer rankings didn't have the Rebels as high as some years.

"We believed, but we just weren't sure," said the veteran Rebel coach, whose team is the 14th seed in the field. "We were relieved when we saw Oxford."

The players agreed with their coach that it will be an exciting time at Palmer-Salloum Tennis Center May 13-14.

"It's very important for us to play here," said junior Eric Claesson. "It's a lot of fun with so many people supporting us. It makes it easier for us to play well when we play at home before our own fans."

"We felt like we would get to host but we didn't know for sure," said sophomore Erling Tveit. "Now that we know we are playing at home, we can prepare and get ready for our first match a week from Saturday."

Ole Miss and Belmont will play at 11 a.m. on Sat., May 13, while Florida State and Auburn will play in the afternoon. Ole Miss and Arkansas will play baseball at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field at 3 p.m. that day.

"We want people to be able to watch our match, cheer for us, and then go to baseball and cheer for the Rebels there," Chadwick said, noting that graduation is also that day on campus.

On Sun., May 14, the championship match will begin at 1 p.m.

Chadwick, whose team was SEC overall runnerup to unbeaten Georgia, SEC Tournament runnerup to titliest Georgia, and SEC West champion for the fifth straight season, said he is pleased that the program continues to be host-worthy, a status he hopes continues for many years to come.

"It's very exciting to be hosting," Chadwick said. "Us and Georgia are the only two SEC teams hosting, so we feel very fortunate. We have a very tough group of teams coming in, but we're excited about it. For our fans it's going to be a really exciting weekend, and we're pleased to be able to play in front of them again."

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