The SEC West Champion Rebels (22-4) finished runner-up in the overall standings to No. 1 ranked Georgia (26-0) for the second year in a row and lost to them in the SEC Championship final for the third time.
Its discouraging to come up second overall in the conference for the second year in a row, and come up second in the SEC Tournament, head coach Billy Chadwick said. But the reality is that Georgia has had two of the best teams in the history of college tennis the past two years. If we work a little harder we might just get them in the NCAAs.
Ole Miss was leading the No.1 doubles match with Erling Tveit and Eric Claesson up 7-6 against the nations No.1 ranked team of John Isner and Luis Flores. After winning 8-3 on court three, Georgia got a break at No. 2 and held for 8-5 to clinch the point.
In singles, the four, five and six positions have carried the Rebels all season with their impressive record. Georgia boasts three very good players at those positions as well, and so whoever came out on top at those spots would likely have the edge.
Freshman All-SEC honoree Kalle Norberg lost to Nate Schnugg 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 singles as the Bulldogs went up 2-0. It marks just his second loss all season in a dual match. Matthias Wellermann, who has battled a back injury most of the season, lost to 12th-ranked Flores, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3 singles to increase the deficit to 3-0.
The Rebels were battling at all the positions when Georgia finally clinched on court four, as Matic Omerzel finished off Robbye Poole 6-4, 6-4.
They played well in the doubles which we knew they would, Chadwick added. I felt like we really fought hard at every position. They played extremely well to take us at No. 5, and the rest of it was a dogfight. Theres a reason why theyre No. 1 in the country, and they showed it today.
We were actually up a break in the second set at No. 4, and if we get that set who knows what happens. We felt like what we needed to do was take the bottom positions and then take one of the matches up top. Erling was playing great and so the game plan was looking just how we wanted it to. It is very encouraging to see Eric and Erling playing well, and were peaking at the right time.
When the match was decided, the Rebels were in a third set on court two and had just forced a third set on court six. Tveit, ranked No.13, held a one-set lead on No. 1 Isner and the two were even in the second.
I havent been playing that well this year, Tveit said. I started out well, but I wasnt playing too well in the second half of SEC play. The last two or three weeks Ive picked it up, and I feel like Im playing well. Its always fun to play John. Its always close. I felt like I had a really good shot today. It would have been nice to finish it.
The Rebels were making their fourth appearance in the SEC Championship final and second in a row. They have played Georgia in all four appearances.
The field of 64 for the NCAA Championships as well as the 16 regional host sites will be revealed Tuesday, May 1 at 1:30 p.m., CT on ESPNews.
#1 Tveit/Claesson (OM) vs. Isner/Flores (UGA) 7-6, sus.
#2 Helgeson/Omerzel (UGA) def. Berg/Wellermann (OM) 8-5
#3 Schnugg/Hunt (UGA) def. Poole/Klaeson (OM) 8-3
#1 Erling Tveit (OM) vs. John Isner (UGA) 7-6, 5-5, sus.
#2 Eric Claesson (OM) vs. Travis Helgeson (UGA) 2-6, 6-3, 1-2, sus.
#3 Luis Flores (UGA) def. Matthias Wellermann (OM) 6-4, 6-3
#4 Matic Omerzel (UGA) def. Robbye Poole (OM) 6-4, 6-4
#5 Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. Kalle Norberg (OM) 6-3, 6-4
Jonas Berg (OM) vs. Jamie Hunt (UGA) 2-6, 6-3, sus.
**Story published by UMAA Sports Information department