Men's tennis wraps up winning weekend

Ole Miss honored its seniors at the men's home tennis match Sunday. But it almost all seemed premature. The Rebels have a bunch of matches remaining and most likely more at home, if they are again awarded an NCAA Regional Tournament for May 11-13.

But it was the last regular season home match, and so the annual Senior Day was held. Ole Miss beat Arkansas 6-1 in the match to cap a very successful weekend, which also included a 4-3 win over LSU on Friday at the Palmer-Salloum Tennis Center.

Rebel head coach Billy Chadwick said the two wins, which pushed Ole Miss' record to 18-2 overall and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference play, were important at this point in the season.

"Great weekend," he said as his team now wraps up the regular season with three road matches - at Tennessee, at Georgia, and at Mississippi State. "This really puts us in good position in the race, especially the SEC West race."

Chadwick's team has a two-match lead over anyone else in the SEC West, with Alabama and LSU both at 5-3 in league play through Sunday.

"We beat a very, very good LSU team on Friday," said Chadwick, whose Rebels lost to Alabama earlier this season for their only league setback. "It really showed me something about our team when we lost the doubles point and were still able to win that one."

Against Arkansas the Rebels took the doubles point and called on singles players at Nos. 4-6 to take them to victory. It's that lower-singles depth that has carried Ole Miss to championship level again this season.

The Rebs moved to a 3-0 lead with victories at No. 4 and No. 6 singles as freshman Kalle Norberg and sophomore Jonas Berg, both first-year Rebels, won their matches in rapid fashion.

That is anything but unusual as the two Swedish players have made it more than a habit of quickly disposing of their opponents. Berg downed Bradwin Williams 6-0, 6-2 on court six, and Norberg cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Andy Nicoara on court four. Both are a combined 31-0 in singles and have only lost four sets combined all season.

At No. 5 singles, Rebel Jakob Klaeson dominated Jorge Villanueva 6-2, 6-1 to clinch the win for Ole Miss at 4-0.

Robbye Poole at No. 3 and Matthias Wellermann at No. 2 won their matches to push the UM lead to 6-0.

Unfortunately the only blemish of the day was at No. 1 singles where senior Eric Claesson fell to his Razorback opponent.

Arkansas' Blake Strode defeated Claesson in a third-set super-tiebreaker at No. 1 singles for the Hogs' only point of the day. Claesson moved up a spot from his normal No. 2 position after usual No. 1 player Erling Tveit sat out the singles match.

"Erling felt, if possible, that he needed a little time off," Chadwick said. "If we got the doubles point we planned to sit him. He's just mentally and physically tired right now. When you play the other team's best in both singles and doubles every time out, it can take its toll. We're glad we were able to rest him.

"Obviously it's disappointing that Eric couldn't get the win at No. 1 today," Chadwick continued. "Even when Eric loses, he gives everything he has. He always lays it on the line. He provides great leadership. It's why, even when he lost today, his teammates gave him a standing ovation. That's what it's all about."

In addition to Claesson, other honorees on this Senior Day were senior player Fredrik Aarum, who is sitting out his last collegiate season due to injury, and team trainer Yuji Katsuta who is departing the program.

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