Tennis Rebs advance to Sweet Sixteen again

On to Athens! The Ole Miss men's tennis team wrapped up another Oxford Regional Saturday with a 4-1 victory against South Alabama.

Ole Miss now makes its 12th all-time Sweet Sixteen appearance next Thursday when it takes on Illinois, which advanced with a win against Michigan.

"That was a talented South Alabama team we beat today, and anybody here who watched knows how tough it was for us to win it," said Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick after his team moved to 24-4 on the season. "I'm extremely proud of the win and that we'll be making another trip to the Sweet Sixteen."

The Rebels and the Illini meet at 11 a.m. CDT in Athens, Ga., Thursday.

Chadwick said with such a challenge as the Jaguars presented, it was good to play the match in Oxford.

"We had an advantage today playing in front of a great crowd," he said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge today, and our players rose to the occasion. So did our fans."

The Rebels began their rise to Athens by winning the doubles point. Erling Tveit and Eric Claesson got a win at No. 1 doubles in impressive fashion 8-1. Then at No. 3 doubles, Robbye Poole and Jakob Klaeson basically rolled 8-3. The No. 2 doubles match of Matthias Wellermann and Jonas Berg was suspended as the Rebs took the point.

Chadwick said the tone was set not only by winning the doubles point but by playing well from the start.

"We played great in doubles, and I was especially pleased with No. 3 doubles," he said. "They played their best, and it was timely too. We played well at No. 1, but we beat them every day at No. 1. At No. 3 we've been up and down, and it was great to see them return to form. That was big for their confidence."

In singles, Poole had lost his match at No. 3 (6-3, 6-2) as USA tied things overall at 1-1. Klaeson was the first Rebel to get a point in singles, winning at No. 6 by a 6-4, 6-3 margin.

Erling Tveit then won at No. 1 by a 6-2, 6-4 margin to give UM a 3-1 lead. Kalle Norberg closed out the win with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5.

"Five and six today were strong," Chadwick said. "I stayed up on court six, because I thought that was a pivotal match. Their kid up there is really strong. He can give you trouble, big serve, likes to take a rip. Jake (Klaeson) did a great job keeping him off balance by serving well himself and then moving. That was a really well executed gameplan on Jake's part."

Even though Berg's singles match at No. 4 was suspended because the Rebels had already gotten four points for victory, Chadwick said Berg winning his first set in a tiebreak was big.

"That really gave us a lift," he said. "Every person in the place, when they saw that he won that first set, knew it really gave us some momentum."

Momentum that carried the Rebels not only to victory on this day but on to the Sweet Sixteen.

Complete results from Saturday's match:

DOUBLES

#1 Tveit/Claesson (OM) def. Sramek/Hodel (USA) 8-1

#2 Wellermann/Berg (OM) vs. Baker/Nagel (USA) 4-4, sus.

#3 Poole/Klaeson (OM) vs. Dunn/Doskarayev (USA) 8-3

SINGLES

#1 Erling Tveit (OM) def. Dias Doskarayev (USA) 6-2, 6-4

#2 Eric Claesson (OM) vs. Jack Baker (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 0-2, sus.

#3 Mirak Sramek (USA) def. Robbye Poole (OM) 6-3, 6-2

#4 Jonas Berg (OM) vs. Robert Hodel (USA) 7-6, 2-1, sus.

#5 Kalle Norberg (OM) def. R.J. Nagel (USA) 6-3, 6-2

#6 Jakob Klaeson (OM) def. Craig Dunn (USA) 6-4, 6-3

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