In The Final 16 Again

Ole Miss got to Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday despite some of the worst winter weather conditions in years. UCLA wasn't so lucky.

The Bruins were set to fly into Dulles in Washington, D.C., but blizzard conditions prevented that. The Bruins will try to get in today.

All the above forced some scheduling changes as the Rebels will play Georgia, as planned, but the time has shifted. Ole Miss and the Bulldogs will face each other at 2 p.m. (CT) Friday.

The Rebels, ranked 10th nationally, are in the Final 16 of the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the 17th consecutive year.

"We're excited about that because it shows the consistency of the program," said Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick, his team defeating Arkansas and Indiana in Oxford to advance. "Getting to this point without our No. 1 player (Kalle Norberg) and with three freshmen, our guys are really doing a great job."

The Rebels are the only Southeastern Conference team to have qualified for the National Team Indoor Finals 17 straight years and have the second longest consecutive appearance streak in this tourney behind UCLA.

Ole Miss has also beaten SEC rival Mississippi State this season, and will be facing its third conference opponent in the early non-conference portion of its schedule when it plays Georgia. The Rebels are 4-0 on the season.

Georgia comes into the tournament 4-0 also and has wins over Northwestern and North Carolina in the first and second rounds of this event. They are led by senior All-Americans Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt and junior All-American Javier Garrapiz. Freshman Bo Seal was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the Bulldogs after the win over North Carolina.

"Georgia has three very good players at the top of their lineup. They also have a really good freshman (Seal) at No. 5," Chadwick said. "If we're going to win, we need to do a good job in the doubles, take one of those top three (singles) matches, and then find a way to get two out of three at the bottom."

Chadwick said his squad should go into the event relaxed and ready to play.

"The pressure is definitely on Georgia, because they're favored to win," he said. "At the same time, we have not lost, and our guys think they can win."

Without Norberg, who may redshirt this season due to a back injury, the Rebels have looked to older players like junior Tucker Vorster.

"The guys are really playing good tennis now, and we are excited about what lies ahead," Vorster said. "This is a big weekend for us. If we can come away with some solid wins, this will give us confidence for the SEC schedule. Georgia is one of our biggest rivals, and playing them at a big event like this is going to be great."

Chadwick said he's been pleased with the development of his younger players.

"We're focusing both individually and as a team on competing hard on every point," he said. "As a freshman, it's easy to get distracted and get your mind off what you're trying to accomplish. It's extremely important to give everything you've got on every single point, and that's what these guys are starting to do."

Chadwick said the Rebels, who lost the doubles point in their first two matches but have won it in the last two, are beginning to find themselves in that all-important early part of each match.

"We're being led in doubles by the (Thiemann) twins," he said. "Chris has really, really picked up his play. Marcel is playing excellent also. We've really picked it up at No. 3 doubles. But we've got two freshmen there (Adrian Skogeng Forberg and Harry Fowler), and they are beginning to realize what's expected of them and play better. Tucker and Jonas (Lutjen) have really proven to be a solid No. 1 team."

The Rebels have advanced to the semifinals at the National Team Indoor five times, most recently in 2008. Six SEC teams are in the Final 16 this weekend.

Fans can follow all the action through live scoring by going to and clicking on the link in the calendar box.

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