Freshman Otto Sauer won a huge second-set tiebreaker to clinch a 4-3 win over No. 23 Alabama for the third-ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team here Friday at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
With the Rebels up 3-2 and having gone to a third set on court six, Sauer, up 6-5 in the breaker, served it out against Crimson Tide senior Daniel Buikema to give the Rebels (11-2, 3-0) their third straight SEC win.
The Rebels now head to Auburn to face the 20th-ranked Tigers Sunday at 1 p.m. Auburn lost to Mississippi State 4-3 in Auburn Friday.
Ole Miss took the early 1-0 lead against Alabama, by winning a close doubles point, against a team that had won the doubles point in 10 of their 12 matches coming in. The fifth-ranked pair of Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge won 8-6 at No. 1, and then Devin Britton and Tucker Vorster clinched the point with an 8-6 victory on court two.
Senior Jonas Berg, ranked No. 32 in the country, stepped up to the plate in singles, coming back from a set down at No. 1 against Alabama's 66th-ranked Syketh Myneni, who had previously defeated the nation's No. 9 ranked player last weekend. After dropping the first set 6-1, Berg won the second and third sets 6-4, 6-4 to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
Alabama (11-2, 2-1) got on the board, when Billy Mertz won two tiebreakers against Bram ten Berge at No. 4 singles. The Crimson Tide evened the match when senior Mathieu Thibaudeau staved off match points in the second set tiebreaker against Rebel freshman Devin Britton. Britton took the first set 6-4, and then held a 6-2 lead in the breaker, before Buikema mounted his comeback. At 5-5 in the third, Buikema broke Britton and served it out for the 2-2 score.
The Rebels' have become accustomed to penciling in a win from Kalle Norberg, no matter where he plays, and he answered the call again Friday, dominating the Crimson Tide's Michael Thompson in the third set at No.3 singles, to put the Rebels ahead 3-2 and set up Sauer's match-clinching win.
"This was an outstanding Alabama team; the best team I've seen here in a long time," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "It took everything we had to beat them. It was a great team effort from top to bottom. We did a good job of coming out and taking the doubles point. In singles, every match was a struggle. We had to fight them to the very end. Otto did a great job of serving out the tiebreaker up 6-5."
Alabama got the final point, when Rickey Doverspike came back to beat Rebel freshman Marcel Thiemann at No. 6.
To follow the Rebels against Auburn, go to www.OleMissSports.com and click on the link in the calendar box.
Ole Miss sophomore Karen Nijssen came back from a set down at No. 2 singles, to clinch a 5-2 win over No. 16 Alabama for the Rebels Friday at the Gillom Sports Center. With the win, the Rebels improved to 5-4 overall and 1-2 in the SEC as they get set to host Auburn Sunday at 1 p.m.
The match had to be played indoors due to inclement weather. Ole Miss gave Alabama (11-1, 2-1) its first loss of the season and snapped their program best win streak. The Rebels did so, by winning the doubles point and the top three matches to go up 4-0 before Alabama ever got on the board.
Ole Miss dominated at No.1 doubles with 28th-ranked Karen Nijssen and Kristi Boxx winning 8-1. Alabama won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles. The freshman duo of Gabriela Rangel and Abigail Guthrie pulled out a 9-7 win over the Crimson Tide pair of Meritt Emery and Shelley Godwin at No. 3 doubles to clinch the point. Serving for the point at 7-5, the Alabama duo broke Rangel's serve and held for 7-7. Ole Miss held serve on Guthrie's racquet, and then broke Emery to go up 1-0.
First off the court in singles, freshman Kristi Boxx downed Alabama's Tiffany Welcher 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 4-0 at No.1 singles. That made it 2-0.
Ole Miss would have to fight hard to get the next two points, as sophomores Karen Nijssen and Laura van de Stroet both lost their first sets. They both also won huge second-set tiebreakers that propelled them on to victory. They both faced match points in those tiebreakers as well. van de Stroet won her tiebreaker 7-5 and went on for a 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 win at No. 3 singles. Moments later, Nijssen finished off a 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles, snapping Alabama's three-match win streak in the series and improving Ole Miss' overall lead to 28-12.
Abigail Guthrie defeated Crimson Tide senior Shelley Godwin, who came in undefeated, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 singles for the Rebels' fifth point.
"This was a great team effort today," head coach Mark Beyers said. "To beat a team like Alabama who came in with an 11-0 record, is very impressive. We are proud of our team. Karen and Kristi played great at No. 1 doubles and then Gabriela and Abby closed it out at No. 3. We had two great comebacks at two and three singles. To be down match points in both matches, and prevail in both is unbelievable.
"We are also happy for Abby, who got a solid win for against a senior. This is a great way to start off the spring break week. We have to come back Sunday and have this same level of play to beat a talented Auburn team."
The match against Auburn will be played outside at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, weather permitting.
Beating Bama Twice
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