Tennis team looks to next season

Ole Miss' Erling Tveit and Eric Claesson were set to play in California today in the first round of the NCAA Individual Tournament. The rest of the Rebels are back in Oxford and preparing for their summers.

Eric Claesson and Erling Tveit remained behind in the Bay area as the rest of their teammates headed home Monday.

Ole Miss had fallen to Texas in the Sweet 16, and the Rebels' No. 1 and 2 players stuck around for the individual portion of the tournament. They will also team up for doubles. All that began today.

Pepperdine gave Georgia its first loss of the season Tuesday to become national champions. Chadwick said the Rebels were disappointed but were already looking forward to next season. The Sweet 16 national tournament for college D-I tennis next year is back in Athens, Ga.

"It was a close match," said Chadwick of the Rebels loss to the Longhorns. "We were very close to getting the doubles point. If we do that, then I think we win that match and move on to the final 8."

Chadwick attempted to explain portions of each of the singles matches and how that just a point or two here or there would have swung it the Rebels' favor. It's like that in so many big matches; just a point or two in a match or two makes the difference.

Chadwick said he was pleased with the year his Rebels had, winning the Oxford Regional to advance to Palo Alto, Calif., this week. The Rebels won the SEC Western Division for the fifth consecutive year, finished second overall in the conference standings, hosted an NCAA regional for the seventh time, and recorded the program's eighth 20-win campaign.

"We accomplished a lot this season," Chadwick said. "We are excited because we were one of the youngest teams out there. That helps us look forward to the future, beginning next season."

Juan Pablo DiCesare is the lone senior this season as five of the top six players return from this year's lineup. The Rebels will also have available freshman Ahmed El Tabakh, a healthy Chris Rea (the transfer from USM who battled a knee problem this school year), and German standout Matthias Wellermann.

Tveit, a junior to be, and Claesson, a rising senior, will again lead the Rebels in 2006-07. But they have the unfinished business out in California. Tveit and Claesson are among the field of 64 in singles which began at Noon CT. The duo also earned a No. 5-8 seed in the 32-team doubles draw, which starts Thursday.

The ITA's Southeast Region Player to Watch, Tveit is ranked No. 22 in the nation with a 32-8 overall record. He went 18-4 in his first season at No. 1 singles, earning All-SEC first team honors. He helped lead Ole Miss to its 11th "Sweet Sixteen" appearance.

Claesson owns a team-leading 36-12 overall record and is ranked No. 53 in the nation. The All-SEC first team selection played well in the NCAA Team Championships, including a win over No. 35 nationally ranked Roger Gubser in the round of 16 loss to Texas.

The two have combined to post a 22-7 record in doubles and are ranked No. 8 in the nation. They have won 18 of their last 20 matches and helped the Rebels win the doubles point in 17 of their final 20 matches to end the season.

"Erling and Eric represent Ole Miss very well, and we are so pleased with what they have accomplished so far," Chadwick said. "And they aren't finished yet. The good news is we have them both back next season."

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