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The numbers aren't all that great but it's an SEC West showdown just the same. Ole Miss hosts Auburn and Alabama in men's tennis this weekend, and there's a lot on the line.

The Rebels are 13-5 on the year but just 4-4 in league play. Auburn, which plays the Rebels at 2 p.m. today in Oxford, is 8-9 and 4-4.

These are the SEC West leaders with Alabama just behind them at 3-5. The Crimson Tide plays at 1-6 Mississippi State today. On Sunday Auburn is at MSU, and Alabama is at Ole Miss. LSU (2-6) and Arkansas (1-7) play Vanderbilt and Kentucky this weekend.

The Rebels are the highest ranked SEC West team at No. 17. Sunday's encounter with Alabama begins at 1 p.m.

Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick said his team needs some help this weekend from its fans.

"The match with Auburn we feel is very even. It's a really good Auburn team," said Chadwick, whose program has defeated the Tigers 22 straight times. "Then on Sunday we play a really good Alabama team. We're going to have to be at our best. I want to encourage everyone to come out and help us as we strive to get another West championship."

Tucker Vorster

The numbers are in the Rebels' favor. In addition to the 22 consecutive wins against Auburn, Ole Miss has won three straight against Alabama and eight of the last nine times the two have met. The Rebels have won eight straight SEC West titles, so they aren't going down without a fight.

"The team has handled it great," said Chadwick of what most would consider a down year. "What you're seeing is a team that's improving every single day. We've got a lot to work for and fight for this weekend to get another SEC West title."

With NCAA Champion Devin Britton going pro after his freshman season, and with lone senior Kalle Norberg sitting out this year with a back injury, the Rebels were not quite what they had hoped.

"We're in the midst of a rebuilding year," Chadwick admitted. "We're playing with freshmen. To be going through a rebuilding year and still be in the top 20 in the nation and with a shot at winning the SEC West speaks volumes."

A few Chadwick comments on the players:

"The twins (Chris and Marcel Thiemann) are sophomores. They've turned into two of the top players in the conference. They will be playing No. 1 doubles this weekend. Nobody dreamed that a person playing No. 6 singles last year, Marcel, would be playing No. 1 singles this year and winning. In doubles those guys have been playing lights out."

"(Junior) Tucker Vorster is playing singles for us for the first time. He came in as a freshman and played doubles. He had knee surgery after his freshman year and was out from June until December. He did a great job playing doubles last year but wasn't ready to play singles. With him playing sometimes No. 2 singles and sometimes No. 1, he's one of the most improved players in the country. He serves as the leader on our team."

"We're seeing improvement with (freshman) Harry Fowler every day. (Freshman) Adrian Forberg Skogeng is one of those who is going to fight for every single point. (Freshman) Jonas Lutjen is playing No. 2 singles as a true freshman. He is one of those guys that is the future of the program. He's a really strong player and a big part of the reason we're top 20 in the country. (Freshman) Jaime Vazquez Catoira continues to improve every day. He shows much, much potential. We're seeing him move in the right direction."

The Rebels host highly-ranked Ohio State Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m., and then close out their regular season at home on Grove Bowl Saturday with a 3 p.m. match against Mississippi State immediately following the football game.

Mark Beyers

On the women's side, the Lady Rebels are having a terrific year and are coming off a dominant weekend with wins against Tennessee and Georgia.

Ole Miss is 11-4 overall and 5-3 in SEC play. Head women's coach Mark Beyers, whose team is ranked 18th nationally this week, said the squad has indeed had its moments this season.

"We've won some big matches this season, and we've also had some I felt we should have won and didn't," said Beyers, whose team plays at Auburn today and at Alabama Sunday. "But we're playing well right now, and we had a good weekend against Tennessee and Georgia."

Tennessee was ranked 14th nationally and Georgia 13th, and the Lady Rebs won each match by a 5-2 margin. It was the Lady Bulldogs' first SEC loss of the season.

Ole Miss is alone in first place in the SEC West, a game ahead of Arkansas which is 4-4.

The women conclude their regular season at Mississippi State on Saturday, April 17, at 11 a.m.


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