Texas Two-Step

Billy Chadwick was eager with enthusiasm as a collection of team and fans gathered inside the Indoor Practice Facility for NCAA Regional selections Tuesday.

He could hardly contain himself. He shook hands and shared pleasantries with most, if not all, in attendance, and rarely sat down as ESPN's J.W. Stewart rattled off the contributing teams in this year's field of 64.

Chadwick had his reasons. Postseason parings are always exciting this time of year, but 2009-10 was like any other for the 28-year head coach of Ole Miss men's tennis. Chiefly due to five key departures from a year ago, including star player Kalle Norberg, this season was quite possibly his most demanding.

"When you look at this team and the adversity we had to overcome… we knew our back was against the wall," he said. "For this team to go into this time period as a top-20 team in the country is a great effort. There's just improvement up and down on this team."

Tucker Vorster

The Rebels (18-7) have reached the postseason every year since 1994. That incredible run didn't end Tuesday, as Ole Miss travels to College Station, Texas, the site of the 2008 NCAA Championships, to meet TCU (12-12) in the first round May 14 at 3 p.m.

"This one took me a little bit by surprise," Chadwick said, his team the No. 2 seed. "But now that I sit down and look at it, we've been successful out at Texas A&M. We look forward to playing them."

Chadwick will admit this season was an uphill climb.

Devin Britton, who won an NCAA singles championship as a true freshman a year ago, opted to turn pro after only a semester at Ole Miss. Norberg, widely regarded as the team's best player, was sidelined due to a lingering back issue. He was granted a medical redshirt.

Overall, the No. 18 nationally-ranked Rebels lost five starters from last year's SEC Champion squad, including Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berg, who were All-Americans and one of the nation's top dual pairs.

Though initially surprised at first, Tucker Vorster, a veteran leader and second team All-SEC selection, feels the first-round draw could play into Ole Miss' favor.

"We're very, very excited to be going back to College Station," he said. "It's kind of a bit of surprise for us, but we're up for the challenge. I love playing down there. If we make it to Athens, the draw will look pretty good from then on."

Along with TCU, Ole Miss joins Texas A&M and Prairie View in College Station. The Rebels are in Tennessee's side of the bracket, with all roads leading to Athens, Ga., which plays hosts to the NCAA Championships.

Familiar Ground:

Tuesday was all-too-familiar for Mark Beyers and the Ole Miss women's tennis team.

Similar to last season, Ole Miss is returning to Atlanta, Ga. for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This time, they'll meet UC Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Championships May 14 at 9 a.m.

Mark Beyers

The Rebels beat Denver in the first round in 2008, before seeing their season come to an end against host Georgia Tech.

"I was a little surprised. I thought we were going to go to Austin to play Texas," Beyers said. "But it's not a bad thing. I don't know much about (UC Irvine). It's always tough to come all the way from the West Coast to the East Coast. We learned that with Denver. It's hot, humid. Denver had a tough time adjusting to it."

Ole Miss (15-5) is led by four All-SEC selections, including first-teamers Connor Vogel and Kristi Boxx, who helped lead the Rebels to their first ever outright SEC Western Division Championship. Ole Miss' 8-3 conference record was also the best since 2000.

The No. 2 seeded Rebels are currently ranked No. 16 in the nation.

"We've been to Georgia Tech," Beyers said. "We know what to expect there. We know the climate, the courts. I'm excited about it."


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