Rebs host tourney today, tomorrow

The weather is cold and icy outside, but inside the Gillom Center, it's tennis season.

The building, named after the Gillom family of Ole Miss athletics and opened in 1997, will for the second straight season host the first and second rounds of the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Tournament.

Ole Miss and Arkansas meet at 10 a.m. today, while Indiana and Columbia will play at 2 p.m. The winners meet Sunday at 2 p.m. for the right to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16 in Charlottesville, Va.

It's the first home action of the spring season for the 10th-ranked Rebels, who feature four new players on their eight-man roster.

One new Rebel has already played a big role in a key win over Mississippi State last Monday night in Jackson. Freshman Harry Fowler, playing at No. 5 singles after pairing with fellow newcomer Adrian Forberg Skogeng at No. 3 doubles, claimed a victory which tied the match 3-3 and allowed Chris Thiemann to close it out at No. 6 singles with his win.

"I was looking forward to our first epic dual match," Fowler said. "Somewhere down the road, someone's going to come up big. I didn't expect to have the chance for it all to be on my shoulders in the first one. It was a great feeling."

Thiemann was well ahead in his match and appeared to be on his way to victory. Fowler's match was much closer and was critical in the Rebels' quest for continued success against State.

Fowler said the 23-match win streak against the Bulldogs had been mentioned many times, and the team was well aware of the importance of keeping it going.

"I knew there was a long winning streak on the line. We all knew about it," Fowler said. "I just didn't want to be the one to lose it. I didn't want to be the one to break the winning streak. I pulled out a clutch point. And we had such great support down there. It's definitely great to look to the fans and your teammates when you're down. There was a lot of pressure, but it was a lot of fun."

Chadwick said he and his assistant coach, Toby Hansson, helped push Fowler through in his first big college match after the Rebels had moved from down 3-0 against MSU to down only 3-2.

"Then all eyes were on Harry," Chadwick said. "The whole crowd really gathered on that court. Toby and I kept reminding Harry to fight. We were yelling 'Fight, Harry, Fight!' on every point. We'll look back and say this is the night he grew up. This is the night he got an understanding of what competing is all about. He had his back to the wall. He was down match point. That changed the momentum to us."

Chadwick said it was a team effort against MSU, and the new Rebels came through.

"When it really came down to it, it was the freshmen that won it," he said. "And the twins (Marcel and Chris Thiemann) both won their matches and won their doubles. They've improved so much in a year's time. We're going to get Tucker (Vorster) rolling. (Newcomer) Jonas (Lutjen) is going to turn out to be one of the best players in college tennis. And then we get Kalle Norberg back."

Norberg, the Rebs' lone senior, has had a recurring back problem, and it remains to be seen if he will redshirt. Even if he plays in this weekend's tourney, he could still redshirt if he plays no further matches beyond Sunday.

Chadwick is excited about his 2010 squad, especially after the gut-wrenching but euphoric win against Mississippi State.

"You look at this team and say wow. They have the potential to be special," he said. "They fight until they find a way to win. They showed they know how to win."

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