Highly Motivated

Bram ten Berge said Tuesday it's all about tennis now. His exams are over, his family will soon be on its way to the states, and the Rebels are ready to travel to a Regional.

Sure, it is still distasteful that the second national seed Rebels aren't hosting and that they have to travel to rival LSU for a Regional. But it is what it is, as wrong as it may be. And ten Berge says they are only focused on playing – and winning.

"You have to accept what happened and move on from there, as hard as that is, especially in the beginning," said the fifth-year senior who is ranked No. 1 in college tennis in doubles, along with partner and fellow senior Jonas Berg. "We've made new arrangements now, and the parents will now come watch us in Baton Rouge. And there is the special (graduation) ceremony that they can attend as well. So it's worked out as well as possible."

Ten Berge, who has played No. 4 singles most of this season, said Ole Miss officials have been most helpful in making sure the graduation ceremony, set for 9 a.m. Sunday, was able to proceed. He and Berg will graduate a day later than others in their class.

"They made all the necessary adjustments, and the Chancellor was willing to show up on Sunday morning," he said. "He didn't have to do that, and it says a lot about him that he is supportive in that way."

Prior to that, there is tennis – a match Friday against Alcorn State and, if the Rebels win and they should, a match Saturday against the Friday winner of the LSU-Rice match.

"Winning the SEC Championship and winning the SEC Tournament were extremely big, especially having four freshmen (of eight total on the roster)," he said. "I think it's very promising for the postseason that we can do more great things. The postseason comes down to which team is basically the hottest once they get to Texas A&M."

The Aggies will host the National Championships after the NCAA Regionals. The final 16 teams, the winners of the 16 Regionals, advance to College Station, Texas.

"The most important thing right now is to try to keep the momentum we created over the course of the season," said ten Berge, who suffered through a wrist injury and also a broken bone in a foot during his college career prior to this season. "We seem to have found the right formula and we're sticking together as a team. We don't have the easiest draw. Everybody realizes this. But as a team, we may be the best out there.

"Maybe not talent-wise," ten Berge continued, "but as a true team and sticking together and fighting for one another, I think we can go a long way."

Ten Berge, a Classics major who will move into a master's and doctoral program later in the year at Michigan on a full academic scholarship, said that the Rebels' snub by the NCAA as far as hosting is extra motivation to win and keep winning.

"We'll be fired up," ten Berge said of the Baton Rouge Regional. "Let's be honest. It's ridiculous we're not hosting. This should not happen."

Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick, around ten Berge now for five school years, said the native of The Netherlands has been such a great part of the program for a long time. He said ten Berge's leadership has been vital to the Rebels' accomplishments.

"Bram's always been right at the heart of our success," said Chadwick of the recipient of the Boyd McWhorter Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the Southeastern Conference this season, the highest academic honor given out by the SEC. "He's a leader in so many different ways. That carries over to the rest of the team."

A team that has plans to play as long as it can in the NCAA Tournament, beginning Friday in Baton Rouge.

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