Seven Straight

It's not every day a program wins an SEC West title. But for Billy Chadwick and Ole Miss men's tennis, it is every year. With a victory Sunday over LSU, the Rebels have won seven SEC West crowns in a row.

"It's a great accomplishment, and these guys are really starting to play at the top of their game," said Chadwick after his team, ranked 7th nationally, won 5-2 against the 16th-ranked Tigers. "This is a very good LSU team. We knew they were going to be tough."

With the win, the Rebels improved to 17-4 overall and 8-2 in Southeastern Conference play. LSU fell to 12-7 and 5-5 in the SEC.

Amazingly Ole Miss has won the SEC West every year since the league split into two tennis divisions in 2002. The Rebels own a mind-boggling 32-2 record against division foes since 2002. Ole Miss has won eight of the last nine matches versus LSU.

It was not an Ole Miss club at full strength that beat LSU Sunday.

"Bram (ten Berge) is out for now with an injury, and Jonas (Berg) came down with a stomach bug yesterday," Chadwick said. "The guys picked it up and filled the void. It was a great team effort today."

Ten Berge, who may be back in time for the SEC Tournament on April 17, didn't play at all with a foot problem, while Berg actually played doubles but not singles.

The Rebels won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead in the match. After LSU took the No. 1 doubles match 8-2, Matthias Wellermann and Robbye Poole defeated Tigers Kevin Dessauer and Colt Gaston 8-4 at No. 2.

The deciding doubles match on court three was between Rebels Tucker Vorster and Jakob Klaeson and LSU's Sebastian Carlsson and Jan Zelezny. The Tiger duo moved out to a 5-2 lead before Vorster and Klaeson rallied to even the match. At 6-6, the Rebs broke and served it out to clinch the point.

With ten Berge missing his fifth straight match, and Berg out of singles action, the Rebels were down a bit as far as depth was concerned. Yet they still came through.

Wellermann downed Zelezny 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles to put Ole Miss up 2-0.

Poole made it 3-0 UM when he finished off a straight set win (6-4, 6-2) over LSU's Gaston on court three. Moments later, Kalle Norberg of Ole Miss sealed the victory for the Rebels with his 6-2, 6-3 win against Dessauer on court four.

"LSU has a strong doubles team at No. 2," Wellermann said. "Robbye played well and I give him credit. In singles I knew that was a good match for me, and I executed my gameplan well. I have struggled outdoors, and I finally have some confidence now. Everybody seems to be playing better. It's been indoors, outdoors, indoors, outdoors (because of the weather this spring). Now that we're outside, things are better."

"I needed to play better than I was earlier," Poole said. "My attitude wasn't the best at the beginning of the SEC season. I play better when I'm emotionally into it. I'm practicing hard every day now, and it's paid off for me."

Poole agreed with Wellermann that his own doubles play was superb.

"That was probably the best doubles match I've ever played in my life," he said. "I like playing with Matthias, because he has a really great serve. I can jump around and do some things. It's fun playing with Matthias."

Chadwick said he can sense the team is really starting to hit its stride.

"We're beginning to play better outside," said Chadwick, mentioning that this spring has had a lot of weather that forced the team to play matches indoors, like the Rebels' victory over Arkansas just two days earlier. "I've never seen a spring like this before, and it's been a real challenge."

"The NCAA Tournament is played outside, so we'd better get ready for it," Chadwick quipped.

The Rebels host Mississippi State on Grove Bowl Saturday at 11 a.m. in the regular season finale.

LSU didn't get on the board until the match was clinched by the Rebels. They picked up a win at No. 6 singles as Carlsson defeated Vorster. Their other point came at No. 1 where Michael Venus outlasted Erling Tveit in a third-set tiebreaker.

DOUBLES

1. Venus/Cluskey (LSU) def. Tveit/Berg (OM) 8-3

2. Poole/Wellermann (OM) def. Dessauer/Gaston (LSU) 8-4

3. Tucker Vorster/Klaeson (OM) def. Carlsson/Zelezny (LSU) 8-6

Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3

SINGLES

1. Michael Venus (LSU) def. Erling Tveit (OM) 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(8)

2. Matthias Wellermann (OM) def. Jan Zelezny (LSU) 6-3, 6-2

3. Robbye Poole (OM) def. Colt Gaston (LSU) 6-4, 6-2

4. Kalle Norberg (OM) def. Kevin Dessauer (LSU) 6-2, 6-3

5. Jakob Klaeson (OM) def. Julien Gauthier (LSU) 6-4, 6-4

6. Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) def. Tucker Vorster (OM) 6-3, 6-4

Order of Finish: 2, 3, 4, 6, 5, 1


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