Refuse to Lose

Despite junior Kalle Norberg sitting out of No. 2 singles, Ole Miss was able to cap a perfect weekend in men's tennis with a decisive 6-1 win over No. 20 Auburn Sunday. Read about it inside.

As the Rebels continue to march through a challenging SEC opening stretch, a growing trend has become apparent.

These guys refuse to lose.

Despite facing its fourth-consecutive ranked opponent a bit short-handed, the No. 3 nationally ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team was still able to claim victory over another strong SEC opponent.

This time it was a 6-1 win over No. 20 Auburn without the services of singles mainstay Kalle Norberg – who was sidelined with tendonitis issues exacerbated at Alabama Friday.

Having to play both matches indoors due to inclement weather, the Rebels moved their overall record to 12-2 on the year and 4-0 in league play.

"We knew this was going to be a very difficult road swing," said Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick. "We had to play both the matches indoors, but we've been good inside and out all year. The guys responded today and really played outstanding tennis."

In Norberg's absence, the Rebels relied on four freshmen in singles matches, with Devin Britton and Otto Sauer bumped up to No. 2 and No. 4 singles respectively.

After Ole Miss claimed the doubles point, fellow freshman Chris Thiemann, who played in place of Kalle at No. 6, won in straight sets for a 2-0 Rebel lead. Britton followed up with a victory of his own, taking the first and third sets over Auburn's Tim Puetz 6-3, 6-2.

Senior Jonas Berg fell at No. 1 singles 2-6, 6-7, but Sauer clinched the win for second time this weekend in straight sets over Milan Krnjetin.

"At each position, (the freshmen) played their best tennis," Chadwick said. "It's fun to watch them mature before your eyes. They're coming of age. To be able to beat a team as strong as Auburn, with four freshmen, that's a good day's work."

Senior Bram ten Berge finished off Auburn's Lukas Marsoun 7-6, 6-3, while reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Marcel Thiemann was strong yet again.

The Lehrte, Germany native won in straight sets at No. 5 singles, and has yet to drop a set in any of his last four matches.

"He's been excellent," said Chadwick. "We feel like our strength is in our depth. We're very competitive at every position. Having to play without one of your best players, really of all-time in Kalle (Norberg – it was big for the team to come together and come through."

Sunday's win caps another impressive weekend for the Rebel Netters, who have now topped many of the conference's most accomplished opponents.

The back-to-back National Champion Georgia Bulldogs were the first in the string of victories, followed by a dominating 6-1 win over the then-ranked No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers.

Now holding wins over Auburn and Alabama, Ole Miss heads south on a Sunshine State road trip with stops at West Florida, Florida Atlantic and No. 8 Florida.

"It's nice to head to Florida with two road victories under our belt," said Chadwick, whose team meets the Gators in 10 days. "Florida is another top-10 team and we'll have to be at our best to beat them."

First up is West Florida on Thursday in Pensacola at 1 p.m.

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