Tennis Team Wants Title In Tulsa

Bram ten Berge is pleased to be helping the Ole Miss men's tennis team again. His head coach, Billy Chadwick, is glad to have him back.

The fourth-year junior from Holland has been plagued by injuries throughout his college tennis career. From a wrist problem earlier to a broken bone in his foot back in March, ten Berge has spent a lot of time trying to heal up to help his team.

"Bram's feeling well and playing well," Chadwick said. "It's good to have him back at just the right time as we are in postseason play."

Indeed it is. Ten Berge played well in the recent Oxford Regional, losing only four games in four sets through the two matches playing No. 6 singles against Marist and Vanderbilt. He said he is feeling and playing as well as he has in a while.

"I felt good out there," said ten Berge. "I played really good singles. I felt really comfortable. I think I'm getting to the level I'm supposed to be. I think the whole team is comfortable and confident right now."

The whole team appears to be. The Rebels have won 11 consecutive matches, including three straight in the SEC Tournament in April on their way to that title, followed by the wins over the Red Foxes and Commodores to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Ole Miss, the fifth seed, plays 12-seeded North Carolina Friday at 9 a.m. in Tulsa. The Rebels beat the Tar Heels 4-1 in a match earlier this season at the National Indoor Tournament in Seattle.

"We know what we're up against," said ten Berge. "We've beaten them before. The first time was indoors, and this time is outdoors. So that's a different situation. From a confidence standpoint, it never hurts to have beaten a team before. They're a talented team. We'll have to play well to beat them again. Everybody who gets to this round (Sweet Sixteen) is good, and it's going to come down to whoever is hot will have the best chance to win it. They're dangerous, so we have to be on top of our game."

Chadwick agrees.

"We feel like we're peaking at the right time," the veteran UM mentor said. "The guys are looking forward to this match with North Carolina. We beat them early in the year. They have consistently stayed ranked around 12th in the country. They've had an outstanding year. We took the doubles point from them, and that's their forte'. So we're hoping to take the doubles point again from them, and move on from there."

North Carolina advanced to the round of 16 with a 4-2 win over Duke in the second round. It's the second time in the last three years for the Tar Heels to be in the Final 16.

The Rebels lost in the round of 16 last season to Illinois in Athens, Ga. Ole Miss last made the Final Four in 2005. The Rebels best finish was second pace in 1995.

If the Rebels beat North Carolina, they have a day off, then play the winner of fourth-seeded Georgia and Pepperdine, the 13th seed, at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Other first-round matches are Virginia-Michigan, Tennessee-Baylor, Florida-Texas, Illinois-Ohio State, Florida State-UCLA, Oklahoma State-Southern Cal.

Chadwick is a veteran of these NCAA Tournaments. He knows there are favorites, but any team can win any match from this point on.

"These rounds coming up won't be easy," he said. "They never are. Basically anybody can beat anybody. It's showtime and it's time to be at our best. We have to be at our best from the get-go."

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