Dependable Norberg

The Ole Miss men's tennis team is ranked third nationally this week. Kalle Norberg is one of the big reasons why.

Another in a long line of talented, steady, and tough as nails Swedish players that have been a part of the program, Norberg is a junior who has been impressive since he arrived as a freshman.

Back then he played on the No. 5 and 6 singles courts as he and fellow countryman Jonas Berg were usually at the so-called bottom of the lineup for the Rebs.

But that was what made the team as strong as it was, the depth that those two provided at the five and six spots.

Last weekend those two were center stage as Berg played No. 1 singles against Georgia and Tennessee, and Norberg played No. 2 singles in both matches.

Coach Billy Chadwick said Norberg is as solid as anyone he's ever coached.

"Kalle is so dependable, and he has been since he's been here," Chadwick said. "I remember as a freshman at Tennessee on Senior Day up there, he was the last match on and we had to have it to win. He just dug down deep as the crowd was pulling hard against him, and he wasn't going to be denied. That's the way he's been since he's been here. And best of all, he's really fun to coach."

Norberg won both his singles matches last weekend over his UGA and UT foes. In doubles, teaming with another fellow Swede Otto Sauer, who is just a freshman, the duo was indeed impressive.

They won against the Bulldogs 8-4 and they beat their Volunteer foes a perfect 8-0 to help the Rebs take the doubles point both days.

Norberg said he felt good all weekend long on the Palmer-Salloum Courts.

"That was the first time I've played No. 2 singles in a big match in the SEC," he said of playing No. 2 against both the Dogs and Vols. "It was a new experience and a fun experience, especially since I got two wins. I'm happy with the way I played."

With Berg at No. 1 singles, it was almost like the old days of two years ago when they were on the upper courts winning matches side by side as newcomers to the program.

"There are a good bit more people around the Nos. 1 and 2 courts," he said. "I like Court 5, too. I enjoyed some big matches up there."

Like the day he clinched a win at No. 5 singles for the Rebels against rival LSU in a big match his freshman year.

But there have been a lot of big matches since those freshman wins over the likes of UT and LSU. Norberg has always been penciled in by fans as a win just about every time before matches.

Norberg said he's a better player now than when he arrived.

"Of course experience is one thing, and I'm stronger than I was two years ago," he said. "And I'm just a better tennis player, too. I'm two years older and I've been practicing here for two years. Naturally you get better."

Ironically, Norberg said he felt more pressure on the upper courts where there were less fans watching at Nos. 5 and 6 singles than on the stadium courts of Nos. 1 and 2.

"You are supposed to win up there," he said, meaning that his opponents are normally not as good as the players on the first two courts. "Everyone is really good at 1 and 2 where most players are solid. I can actually be a little more relaxed at 2."

But Norberg, who turned 22 last Saturday, appears relaxed at any position he's played. Last weekend he was as good as he's ever been.

"He's just such a competitor," Chadwick said. "I'm glad he's on our team."

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