Rebs meet Gators in tennis tourney semifinal

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The No. 2 seeded Ole Miss men's tennis team downed seventh-seeded Auburn 4-0 Friday, at the SEC Championships, to advance to a semifinal meeting against Florida Saturday at 11 a.m. With the win, the Rebels improved to 21-3 overall, while Auburn dropped to 13-9.

Florida defeated Alabama, 4-2, earlier in the day. Saturday's meeting will mark the second consecutive year for the Rebels and Gators to face off in the semifinals. The Rebels advanced to the semifinals for the 12th time in the history of the program.

Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead by dominating the doubles. Tveit and Claesson, ranked No. 27 in the nation, downed 44th-ranked Robbert Lathouwers and Alex Schweizer 8-1 at No. 1, and then Robbye Poole and Jakob Klaeson defeated Lukas Marsoun and Alexey Tsyrenov 8-4 at No. 3.

The Rebels improved to 97-4 when they win the doubles point dating back to the 2002 season.

With the lead, head coach Billy Chadwick elected to sit junior Matthias Wellermann out of singles, thus moving everybody up a spot in the lineup. Wellermann has been battling a back problems most of the season.

Ole Miss never let Auburn gain the upper hand, taking all six of the first sets in singles. Sophomore Jonas Berg downed Pawel Dilaj 6-0, 6-3 on court five to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Berg remains undefeated in dual matches at 18-0.

"Today was a really good match for me," Berg said. "Last time I faced him we played a super tiebreaker in the third set for me to win at Auburn. Today I came out focused and ready to go."

Playing in his first SEC Tournament, Berg talked about getting ready for another battle in the semifinals.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "The doubles point is going to be very important because they're one, two and three (in singles) are really strong. If we can take the doubles we have a good chance."

Shortly after Berg won, Tveit's opponent, Schweizer, retired down 6-2, 4-3 on court one, as the Rebels went up 3-0.

Freshman Kalle Norberg added the clinching point, taking out Tiger Alexey Tsyrenov 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6 singles.

"It's not a big deal if I clinch a match or not as long as we win," Norberg said. "Everyone was playing well today and that's what matters."

The Rebels were close to winning on court four and the other two matches had split sets.

"We did a great job in doubles, and then we were able to take every first set in singles," Chadwick said. "We put them in a hole and we were able to close it out. We did an excellent job at making it hard on Auburn today. We are excited about a re-match with Florida tomorrow. It's going to be a battle."

Ole Miss, who recorded its 10th shutout of the season, has now won 20 in a row against Auburn. In addition, the Rebels have allowed the Tigers only five points in the last seven meetings.

In the regular season meeting against Florida, the Rebels defeated the Gators 5-2, in Oxford. The Rebels led the match 3-2, but won it when Florida's No. 2 player was overruled for the fifth time in his match, resulting in an automatic default.

Ole Miss will be going for its fourth appearance in the SEC Championship final. The Rebels out-dueled the Gators 4-2 in last year's semifinal match in Tuscaloosa.

DOUBLES

#1 Tveit/Claesson (OM) def. Lathouwers/Schweizer (AU) 8-1

#2 Berg/Wellermann (OM) vs. Dilaj/Nugent (AU) 6-3, sus.

#3 Poole/Klaeson (OM) def. Marsoun/Tsyrenov (AU) 8-4

SINGLES

#1 Erling Tveit (OM) vs. Alex Schweizer (AU) 6-2, 4-3, ret.

#2 Eric Claesson (OM) vs. Robbert Lathouwers (AU) 6-3, 3-6, 1-1, sus.

#3 Robbye Poole (OM) vs. Lukas Marsoun (AU) 6-2, 0-6, sus.

#4 Kalle Norberg (OM) def. Alexey Tsyrenov (AU) 6-4, 6-1

#5 Jonas Berg (OM) def. Pawel Dilaj (AU) 6-0, 6-3

#6 Jakob Klaeson (OM) vs. Milan Krnjetin (AU) 6-0, 5-0, sus.

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