The Rebels, who won the important doubles point, were leading 3-2 and were searching for one more match victory to clinch the SEC opener for both squads. But finding that one more looked like it was going to be difficult.
At No. 5 singles, featuring Rebel Jonas Berg, the match was already in set three after Berg and Florida's Jordan Dolberg had split sets, 6-4, 6-4, with Dolberg winning the first set and Berg the second.
At No. 2 singles, Gator Greg Ouellette won the first set 7-5 over Rebel Matthias Wellermann, and the second set was in a tiebreaker.
But Ouellette made it easy for Ole Miss to get that last match it needed as he was overruled five different times by the umpire. In college tennis, the third overrule costs the player a point. The fourth overrule costs a game. The fifth overrule is game, set, and match. In college tennis, players call their own matches with an umpire observing from the chair.
Wellermann was down 3-2 in the tiebreaker when Ouellette called the ball out on the next point. The official overruled the call and subsequently defaulted him.
"It's very unfortunate that the match ended the way it did," Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick said. "If you get overruled five times, you get defaulted. That's the rule. I was totally shocked. I had my hands full coaching on court five and didn't see what happened. The head referee was courtside and witnessed it and he said everything was done exactly by the book."
Wellermann, who was at Ole Miss last year but sat out due to NCAA rule, said it was a first for him the way this one went.
"He called five balls out that were good," Wellermann said. "I've never won like that. On the last one, I hit a slice and it was on the baseline. It was a real slow ball and it was clear to see. It was on the line. I've never been a part of a win like this."
Wellermann, playing in front of a large home crowd of Rebel supporters, said he knew going in the match would be tough.
"I knew he was a good player," Wellermann said of Ouellette. "My gameplan was to keep the points short. I played well but got a little unlucky in the first set. I was up in the second set and couldn't close it out. We went to a second set tiebreaker. It was close, and then it was over."
It was over indeed, but Florida and its coaches protested for a while to the umpires as the Ole Miss coaches and players mostly waited out of the way. The decision had been made, and the match was over.
After Ole Miss won the all-important doubles point with ease, it was Robbye Poole who raced to an easy victory at No. 4 singles. Poole shut out Florida freshman Daniel Cash, the son of former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles to make it 2-0 Rebels.
"It was big for us to win the doubles," said Poole, who did not play doubles in this match. "The guys played really well. I played well in singles. It was a good matchup for me. The coaches have been working hard with me to improve my mental approach. We wanted to win this match to get off to a good start in the SEC."
"The doubles point was big for us, and we played really well," Chadwick said. "Florida is so strong at 1, 2, 3 (singles). We're pleased to win, and I think we were going to win at No. 5 anyway."
Wellermann won't ever forget his first big outdoor match as an Ole Miss Rebel. It was indeed a unique match and outcome.
"It was a lot of fun playing on the middle court in front of the crowd," he said after winning the match by default. "They fired me up. I still think I would have won anyway."
Ole Miss, ranked sixth nationally this week, improved to 11-1 overall and 1-0 in league play. The Rebels have now won five of the last six meetings with Florida, which fell to 4-3 and 0-1. The Gators are currently ranked 13th nationally.
On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Rebels host South Carolina, which beat Mississippi State 4-3 in Starkville Friday.
Below are the final results of Ole Miss-Florida.
#1 Tveit/Claesson (OM) def. Levine/Ouellette (UF) 8-3
#2 Klaeson/Wellermann (OM) def. Cash/Mulligan (UF) 8-1
#3 Briceno/Barton (UF) def. Berg/Norberg (OM) 7-2, ret.
#1 Jesse Levine (UF) def. Erling Tveit (OM) 6-4, 6-4
#2 Matthias Wellermann (OM) def. Greg Ouellette (UF) 5-7, 7-6, default
#3 Nestor Briceno (UF) def. Eric Claesson (OM) 6-2, 7-5
#4 Robby Poole (OM) def. Daniel Cash (UF) 6-0, 6-0
#5 Jonas Berg (OM) def. Jordan Dolberg (UF) 4-6, 6-4, 1-0, ret.
#6 Kalle Norberg (OM) def. Shaun Young (UF) 6-4, 6-2
Rebels beat Florida with unexpected ending
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