Men's tennis ready to host NCAA Regional

Ole Miss hosts Belmont, Florida State, and Auburn this weekend in NCAA Men's Tennis Regional action. The winner heads to Stanford and the Sweet Sixteen.

The Ole Miss men's tennis team welcomes Auburn, Belmont and Florida State to the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center this weekend for the NCAA Championships first and second rounds. The Rebels, the No. 14 seed overall in the NCAAs, will face Belmont Saturday at 11 a.m. in the first round.

Auburn and Florida State will follow the Rebels and Bruins at 2 p.m. Saturday. The final will be Sunday at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to the "Sweet Sixteen" in Palo Alto, Calif., May 20-23.

"We are looking forward to the weekend and hosting an NCAA Regional for the sixth year in a row," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "The guys have been working extremely hard all week with final exams and getting ready for a big weekend. With graduation and a huge baseball series against Arkansas it promises to be an exciting weekend at Ole Miss. We encourage the fans to come out and help us try to advance to the next round."

Sunday's final round will be streamed on the internet for free. To access the video, go to www.olemisssports.com and click on the link below the tennis story or click on the link in the live events box on the right side of the page.

"We are pleased to once again offer live video," head coach Billy Chadwick said. This is great for our players' families and fans who aren't able to make it this weekend to be able to see some exciting college tennis. We thank J. Stern and his people for making this happen."

Ole Miss (20-5) is making its 13th consecutive NCAA appearance and 15th overall. The Rebels have advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" 10 times, the Elite Eight seven times and the NCAA Final Four four times, including last year.

The Rebels captured the SEC Western Division Championship this season for the fifth straight year and finished second in the overall standings. They advanced to the SEC Tournament final for the second time in three years.

The team is led by All-SEC honorees Erling Tveit, Eric Claesson, Bram ten Berge and Juan Pablo Di Cesare, who have combined to help lead Ole Miss to its eighth 20-win campaign in the history of the program.

Belmont (7-8) will compete in its first NCAA Tournament. They earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning their first Atlantic Sun Conference Championship with a 4-2 victory over Stetson on April 15. Belmont is led by senior Felipe Lima, who was named first team All-Conference for the third straight season. In addition, head coach Jim Madrigal was named A-Sun Coach of the Year. Since moving to Division I in 1997-98, Belmont is 0-4 versus the Southeastern Conference.

For the second year in a row and the third time in the last four years, Auburn will begin their postseason in Oxford. The Tigers played in the 2003 regional and lost to the Rebels 4-0 in the second round. Last year, the Tigers fell to Ole Miss 4-1 in the second round.

Auburn comes in with a 14-10 record. The Tigers are led by seniors Nick Lane and Alex Schweizer. Lane owns a 17-5 dual match record, and Alex Schweizer is 6-4 at No. 1 singles. Robbert Lathouwers and Lukas Marsoun have teamed up for a 15-8 overall record, 10-4 at No.1 doubles.

Early season injuries, including the loss of their top player, Jonathas Sucupira, to a six-week hand fracture, saw Florida State (17-11) drop in the ITA poll from a preseason No. 11 ranking all the way to 38th by early February. The Seminoles began a steady climb back to the nation's elite (No. 17) thanks to some big wins late in the season that included upsets over then No. 4 Duke and then No. 10 North Carolina at the ACC tournament.

The Seminoles boast the nation's 11th-ranked duo in senior Chris Westerhof (FSU's career leader in doubles victories), and partner Ytai Abougzir, who are currently riding a seven-match win streak. Sam Chang leads the team with a 29-16 record on the season, including a team-high 17-9 dual match record.

Tickets for the regional can be purchased by calling (662) 915-7167 or toll-free 1-888-732-8587. Single day tickets are $7 and a two-day pass is $10.

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