Rebels SEC Tournament Champions Again

AUBURN, Ala. -- The top-seeded Ole Miss men's tennis team successfully defended its SEC Tournament Championship, defeating the No. 3 seed, Tennessee, 4-2 in a hard-fought final here Sunday afternoon at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.

The Rebels, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, completed a perfect SEC season, winning the SEC overall Championship the SEC West title and the SEC Tournament as well as going undefeated (11-0) in league play.

With the Rebels leading 3-2 and needing one more point to secure the championship and possibly the No. 1 national ranking, Mississippi native Devin Britton took care of business in the second set, breaking at 4-4 and holding serve to clinch the win, after claiming the first set 7-5.

"This year was really special because this is a young team, and it is a team that has great chemistry and has come together," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "They play hard top-to-bottom."

Britton posted a 5-0 record in singles and doubles in his first SEC Tournament for the Rebels.

"It was nerve-racking, but definitely a lot of fun to come out on top and definitely intense," Britton said. "It is a big win for the team as well. I just happened to finish last, but a lot of the other guys did great as well, it was a good team effort. The atmosphere is crazy. It is awesome, and there are so many good teams in the tournament. I look forward to coming back next year."

Ole Miss got on the board first by taking the doubles point. Britton and sophomore Tucker Vorster downed the UT pair of Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago 8-3 at No. 2.

Tennessee's J.P. Smith and Davey Sandgren, ranked No. 5 nationally, knocked off top-ranked Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge 8-5 on court one.

Junior Kalle Norberg teamed up with freshman Otto Sauer to post an 8-3 win on court three against the Vol duo of Matt Brewer and Bryan Swartz to clinch the point.

The Rebels got straight set wins from Sauer and fellow freshman Marcel Thiemann to go up 3-0. Thiemann downed Brewer 6-1, 6-3 at six, and then Sauer topped UT's Christian Hansen 6-4, 6-1 at five.

Sauer finished the weekend 3-0 in singles and doubles and clinched the victory over Florida, while Thiemann went 3-0 in singles and clinched the win over LSU.

With the Rebels up 3-0, getting the final point would take some work as Tennessee claimed wins at Nos. 4 and 1 to pull within 3-2. ten Berge fell to Sandgren 7-5, 6-3 and then last year's tournament MVP, Berg, dropped a 6-3, 7-6 decision to eighth-ranked Smith.

"We did a good job of getting out and getting the doubles point today, and we also did a good job of positioning ourselves in singles," Chadwick said. "But, if you look at it close, Tennessee was inching in the entire time, and they were closing in on us. It was great to see Devin step up and put the match away for us."

Norberg was named the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. He went 3-0 in singles and doubles to help lead the Rebels to their second consecutive SEC Tournament title and their third ever.

The Rebels defeated LSU 4-2 in the quarterfinals and then shut out No. 10 Florida 4-0 in the semifinals before taking out the sixth-ranked Volunteers.

Norberg was the only player in the SEC to go undefeated in league play during the regular season and has been the heart and soul of the team's success this spring according to Chadwick.

"It is great," Norberg said of earning MVP honors. I don't know what to say. Everybody on the team was amazing this year. To go undefeated in the SEC and win the tournament is a great accomplishment, not just for me but the whole team.

"I think I have been playing pretty well, and Otto and I have been playing pretty well in doubles during the tournament, better than we played during the regular-season conference matches. My singles matches have been going well also. Today was a little rough, but I'm happy with the way I played."

The Rebels will now wait to see if the tournament championship will catapult them ahead of undefeated Virginia in the national rankings. Virginia held a narrow 1.6 point advantage over Ole Miss in last week's rankings.

Also Tuesday, the NCAA Championship selections and regional host sites will be revealed at 4:20 p.m. on ESPNews. Fans are invited to join both coaching staffs of the men's and women's tennis teams at the Library on the square beginning at 3 p.m.


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