UM gets past UNC; plays Georgia Sunday

They wanted another shot at 'em. Now they've got it. The Ole Miss Rebels play SEC foe Georgia Sunday at 11 a.m. The winner advances to the Final Four.

The Rebs, the 5th seed, have made no secret of the fact that they want to play Georgia again. Back in early March, the Rebels lost their first SEC match of the year in Athens to the homestanding Bulldogs. It's left a bitter taste in the collective mouths of Ole Miss players and coaches ever since.

The Rebels' only other setback in SEC play was to Florida. They avenged that in a big way in the finals of the SEC Tournament. Now they hope to do the same against 4th-seeded Georgia.

It isn't revenge, however, at this stage of the season. This one is all about advancing. The winner is in the Final Four, something Ole Miss hasn't been in since 2005, when Erling Tveit and Jakob Klaeson, now fourth-year seniors, were freshmen; when fourth-year junior Bram ten Berge was a freshman; and before seniors Robbye Poole and Matthias Wellermann arrived at Ole Miss.

They know what beating Georgia will mean, and they know how tough beating Georgia will be.

The Bulldogs are defending national champions and won't go down without a fight. It was the fifth national crown for Georgia last season, and the Bulldogs obviously have a sixth on their minds.

They defeated Pepperdine today 4-1 to advance to play Ole Miss the day after tomorrow.

UM head coach Billy Chadwick is glad for the day off tomorrow. It is hot in Tulsa, and Jonas Berg needs a day of rest. The junior, at No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles with Tveit, has been unbeatable lately. But he suffered leg and body cramps during his match today. He had to receive an IV afterward, and Chadwick is hoping he will be ready for Sunday's match. The Rebels need him.

"He would not have been able to play tomorrow," Chadwick said, thankful for the day off.

"He wasn't tired," Chadwick continued. "It just hit him all of a sudden. It was hotter weather out there than we've played in all year."

The Rebels have now lost two straight doubles points, but they've come back strong to win both matches by rolling through singles - against Vanderbilt last Sunday in the Oxford Regional final and today in Tulsa against North Carolina.

"They pushed us," Chadwick said of the Tar Heels, seeded 12th, falling in the match 4-2 to UM. "We're a better team than when we started this match."

As a program, the Rebels have been here before. They badly want to get to the Final Four again to have a shot at winning the national championship. Second place to national champion Stanford was the best finish for the Ole Miss men's tennis program, and that was 13 years ago.

Georgia, so many times in the past a roadblock, not just for the Rebels but for anybody in its path in the sport of men's tennis, is up next.

Sunday is what college tennis is all about.

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