Home Debut

The Ole Miss men's tennis team, ranked 9th nationally, doesn't ease into the season this week. The Rebels jump in head first.

Ole Miss hosts Troy Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Gillom Sports Center. This weekend the Rebels host the first and second rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Tournament with the winner advancing to the Sweet Sixteen of that prestigious event in Chicago Feb.13-16.

The Rebels will face Kentucky in the first round Saturday at 10 a.m. Wake Forest and Rice play the second match of the day at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, the losers play at 9 a.m., and the winners play at 2 p.m.

Like all home tennis matches, admission to the tournament is free.

"Our crowd support in the past has been excellent," Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick said. "In fact, last year we finished top five in the country for attendance. This year's team is a great mix of proven veterans combined with talented newcomers. We would like to encourage all our fans to come out and get behind them."

The Rebels are led by the nation's top-ranked doubles team of senior All-Americans Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge. Junior Kalle Norberg is also back for his third spring with the Rebels.

Mississippian Devin Britton, who advanced to the singles semi-finals of the recent SEC Indoor Tournament in Lexington, Ky., in his first collegiate action, will play No. 1 singles for the Rebels in the weekend tourney. It is projected he will likely be at No. 1 singles against Troy, although that lineup has yet to be announced.

"We like the explosiveness of Devin and feel like he has the potential to beat anybody at any position," Chadwick said. "He's been playing great in practice, and that gives us a lot of strength at two, three, and four. The heart of the lineup is very, very strong."

And as experienced as any team in the country.

This weekend at No. 2 singles will be Berg, at No. 3 Norberg, and at No. 4 Ten Berge.

German twins Marcel and Christoph Thiemann will make their home debut along with Britton. Marcel will play No. 5 singles, and Christoph will play No. 6 singles.

In doubles, in addition to Berg and Ten Berge, Britton will team with Swedish freshman Otto Sauer, while Marcel and Christoph Thiemann will be paired together.

"Troy is always a very competitive team, and I expect our guys to be at their best with it being our first match," Chadwick said. "We'll be playing four freshmen, so there will be some jitters."

Chadwick expects them to make a quick adjustment to college tennis, and he already saw some of that at the SEC Indoor.

"It's a little bit more of a Davis Cup type atmosphere because it is truly team vs. team," he said. "Another thing that always surprises players when they come to college is how deep the college ranks are and how everybody can play."

Ole Miss is picked by the coaches to win the overall SEC Championship this year. Chadwick said the team may experience some growing pains early and will face some tough competition right out of the gate.

But as the season progresses, they should be able to compete with any team anywhere.

"At the end of the (SEC Indoor), they voted us to win the SEC, so we definitely got their attention," Chadwick said. "Does that mean we're the best team in the conference? We're one of the top teams. What it really means is we're in the thick of things and right where we want to be. We feel we can be competitive with any team in the country. We've been around the block enough times to know every team in the SEC is really good."

But first up, Troy on Thursday.


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