Chadwick already looking ahead to '08-'09

It seems Billy Chadwick's summers always consist of looking back at another successful tennis season, hosting camps, and looking ahead to fall. The summer of '08 is no different.

Chadwick's most recent Rebel troops finished in the Elite Eight, falling to eventual national champion and SEC nemesis Georgia in the NCAA Championships in Tulsa.

Along the way they won a seventh straight SEC West title, an SEC Tournament title, another Oxford Regional crown, before ending the season against the Bulldogs.

"It was another great year, no question about it," said Chadwick, who again had his thoughts and efforts centered on a national title for his deep and talented squad. "Taking home an SEC Tournament championship is a great feat. It was another season everybody, and especially the players, can be proud of. We finished No. 6 in the country and had put ourselves in position again to be one of the teams with a chance to win it all."

Unfortunately, once again they didn't. Second place in 1995 is the best the program has done. But they keep knocking on that vault-like door, pushing hard each year to open it. Perhaps someday….

"Year in and year out, we're there," he said. "We just keep doing what we're doing. We know we're close."

Every year, that is. And 2008-09 should be no different.

Returning are senior Jonas Berg, who had a stellar season with the Rebs and could be the No. 1 singles player this season; Bram ten Berge, a senior who has battled injury to become a stalwart for the Rebel "six"; junior Kalle Norberg, always steady and with an opportunity to move up to one of the top three singles spots; and sophomore Tucker Vorster, the big guy who showed signs of great potential in his first collegiate season.

Also coming in is Otto Sauer, the No. 1 ranked junior player in Sweden. The Rebels went back to familiar territory to bring in Sauer.

There will be at least two or three other Rebel players on the roster, and obviously to fill out a full six singles and three doubles, there has to be – at least six. Those remaining players haven't been announced yet, although Chadwick does have in mind who they will likely be.

"We could be better next year," Chadwick said. And he means it.

They were quite strong this year, and even after losing in the team portion of the NCAA tourney, still had a shot at some national glory.

The Rebels had two doubles teams – Berg and Erling Tveit, Ten Berge and Matthias Wellermann – in the NCAA semi-finals and were so close to having an all-Rebel final.

But ten Berge and Wellermann lost 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in the semis, and in the finals the team that beat them from Southern Cal defeated Berg-Tveit 7-6, 7-6.

So coming close to an all Ole Miss final, the Rebs came away without either team winning the national championship.

"We were right there," Chadwick said. "The Southern Cal team hadn't lost all spring. Bram and Matthias played well. Erling and Jonas almost pulled it off. It was a great effort by all."

Chadwick points to other superlatives for the Rebels this past season.

"We had four All-Americans in Erling, Jonas, Matthias, and Bram," he said. "The overall team GPA was 3.35. It was another special year in so many ways."

And now they look ahead.

"Everybody is playing all over the place," he said of the Rebels this summer. "The returning guys know they have to move it up a level for us to get where we want to be next year. And I believe they will."

That's clearly the normal summer plan of action for Ole Miss men's tennis.

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