Kalle Norberg clinched his fist in celebration and the many fans in attendance exploded. There could be no better ending than the one Ole Miss would encounter on this day – their SEC opener.
In a total team effort from all involved and with Norberg sealing the win in No. 2 singles, the No. 10 nationally ranked Rebels topped No. 4 Georgia 4-3 Friday afternoon.
With the win, Ole Miss improved to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in league play, while Georgia dropped to 11-2 and 0-1 in the SEC.
"It was what you would call a perfect day," said Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick. "The weather was 75 degrees, the stands were packed and you had two top-10 teams going at it. It came down to the wire and we positioned ourselves to win. These are the kinds of matches you want to win at home. They've won two national championships back-to-back, so this was a big win for this program."
The match was a ferocious battle between two of the best teams in the nation, with the Rebels battling to the very end for victory.
After winning the doubles point, freshman Marcel Thiemann got the team rolling in singles, winning in straight sets. The Lehrte, Germany native coasted, topping Georgia's Christian Vitulli 6-2, 6-2.
"I thought Marcel played his best match of the year at six," Chadwick said. "The freshmen played a big part (in the victory)."
That would be the only match to come easy for Ole Miss, however, as both Norberg and Bram ten Berge would have to scrape in each of their respective matches.
Bram clinched first, but was forced to do so in comeback fashion. After dropping the first set 6-3, the senior broke Georgia's Drake Bernstein to win the second 6-4.
With his emotions running high and many of his teammates showing support, Bram dominated the third with a 6-1 set.
"I started out pretty terrible in the first set, but I tried to hang in there and focus on getting my serves in," ten Berge said. "I caught a pretty good break in the second set and was able to hold on to my serve. In the third set, I actually felt really comfortable and he was a little worse. That explains the final score."
But it was Kalle who clinched, defeating Bulldog Jamie Hunt in straight sets. After capturing the first set 6-4, the 52nd player in the nation fell behind in the second 3-2.
He was able to fight back, however, giving the Rebels the win with a 6-4 clinching victory.
"We knew before the match that Georgia was going to be tough," said Norberg. "I'm happy with the way I played. I thought I played a good match. I kind of did what I had to do."
Chadwick had equal praise for the veterans.
"(Kalle and Bram) are the ones we're counting on," Chadwick said. "Bram outfought (Bernstein). His experience won that match for him. Kalle is just one of the best players in the nation and he got a great win today."
Friday's win was the Rebels first in the series against Georgia since the 2005 NCAA Elite Eight.
It will be short-lived, however, as Ole Miss meets No. 8 Tennessee Sunday at 1 p.m. Free pizza will be available for those in attendance, courtesy of 3 Guys Pizza.
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