On Sunday in windy and chilly conditions, the Rebels (16-2 overall and 6-0 in SEC play) won a tight doubles point against the Gamecocks. All three doubles matches were still going on after an hour, but in a span of just three or four minutes, it was over.
Kalle Norberg and Otto Sauer won 9-7 at No. 3, but the other two courts went to tiebreakers. Bram ten Berge and Jonas Berg finished off USC's Diego Cubas and Ivan Machado 9-8(4) at No. 1 doubles to secure the point for the Rebels. At the time, Ole Miss' duo of Tucker Vorster and Devin Britton led 6-2 in the tiebreaker on court No. 2.
The Gamecocks (14-4, 3-3) appeared to lose some of their enthusiasm at that moment, knowing their best chance for victory against the powerful Rebels was to win the doubles point.
In singles, Ole Miss took advantage of that apparent momentum by winning five of six first sets.
Freshman Devin Britton beat Pedro Campos at No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-2 to go 2-0 on the weekend, including his big come from behind victory at Florida.
Bram ten Berge defeated Ivan Machado 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 singles to make it 3-0, and then freshman Otto Sauer clinched the match for Ole Miss with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Johannes Pulsfort at No. 5.
Due in part to unfavorable SEC scheduling, which had Ole Miss playing at Florida Friday afternoon and back home for the USC match Sunday afternoon, the Rebels overcame some huge obstacles for the victories, in addition to the competition itself.
The match at Florida began at 3 p.m. Friday but was postponed by rain only an hour into the match. Florida has no indoor courts.
There was a five-hour delay, and the match was resumed at 9 p.m. The Rebels went on to victory about 1 a.m. With hotel rooms booked in Orlando an hour and a half away, and a flight for Memphis at 6 a.m., there was little time for rest. So they didn't.
The Rebels ate after their victory over the Gators, skipped the hotel, and headed straight to the Orlando airport to check in.
They arrived back in Memphis around 9 a.m. Saturday and headed to Oxford. After some rest, the team practiced again, before getting more rest.
Some admitted after the win over South Carolina they felt as if they still had jet lag. It's obvious why.
"To beat Florida at Florida is a big deal in itself, because they don't lose many matches down there," Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick said. "Today we were really worried (about South Carolina) because of all we went through since Friday."
Chadwick said beating USC 4-0 eliminated the fact that the Rebels had some challenges other than the matches this weekend.
"There were a lot of excuses out there," he said. "So I'm really proud of these guys. They found a way to get the doubles point, and then they really stepped it up in singles."
Chadwick almost eluded to the fact that the match was decided in doubles. But he didn't take it quite that far.
"It really helped us considering the circumstances. We needed a boost," he said of doubles. "The other thing was it seemed to take the wind out of South Carolina, and we were able to take advantage of that. Playing at home, we had a lot of confidence at that point."
Chris Thiemann was two points away from winning on court six when play was halted against the Gamecocks, Kalle Norberg was up a set on three, and Jonas Berg was 2-2 in the second down a set, when the match was stopped.
It's the best start in league play for the Rebels since the 2004 season when they started 7-0 and won their third overall SEC Championship in men's tennis.
Ole Miss has now defeated six straight Top 25 teams in the SEC.
The Rebels play No. 13 Kentucky Friday at 4 p.m. at the Palmer-Salloum Center on the Ole Miss campus.
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