Results tagged “Ole Miss Men's Tennis”
One spot in the ITA national rankings can make all the difference.
Last season, San Diego, ranked No. 44 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, while crosstown rival, San Diego State, ranked No. 45, was the highest ranked team left out of the 64-team field.
Ranked No. 53 in the country and likely needing a win over No. 10 Texas A&M to keep their postseason chances alive, Ole Miss played its most complete match of the season to knock off the Aggies 4-3 in legendary head coach Billy Chadwick's last SEC home match.
After the win, as well as a doubleheader sweep of Alcorn State, the Rebels moved up 10 spots to No. 43 in the country, ahead of Thursday's SEC Tournament match against No. 18 Tennessee in Nashville. In the first meeting in Knoxville, Ole Miss won 4-1 behind wins at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 singles.
"If they were making the choice today, we might get in; we might not," Chadwick said. "We're ranked No. 43 in the country and traditionally they take 43 or 44 teams, in addition to the automatic bids that are ranked lower. We're walking the tightrope on it. We need to help ourselves and beat Tennessee."
Coaches often times talk about sense of urgency, such as men's basketball head coach Andy Kennedy referring to the team's 2013 NCAA Tournament run. For Chadwick, it's no different, led by the team's lone senior in Johan Backstrom and two-time All-American Nik Scholtz.
"You could see that when we played Texas A&M," Chadwick said. "They really played with a sense of urgency. We know that right now we control our destiny, and if we want to make the NCAA's, we take care of Tennessee."
"We believe we can do it," Scholtz said. "Making the tournament is another thing that's motivating us at this stage in the year. It's good to know that you're definitely in (the discussion), but the fact that we don't know if we're in the tournament is great motivation."
The Ole Miss men's tennis team saw its 26-match win streak against arch-rival Mississippi State come to an end on April 16, 2011. Since that day in Starkville, the series has been back and forth, with the Bulldogs winning each of the next three, and then the Rebels winning the last two.
The two teams meet for the first time this season, as Ole Miss welcomes No. 17 Mississippi State Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The Rebels took two of three from the Bulldogs last season, including a come-from-behind 4-2 win in Starkville in their most recent meeting.
"Every match against Mississippi State is a big one," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "This one is really shaping up to be special. It has some big ramifications as far as SEC seeding and NCAA selection, so we're looking forward to Sunday."
Junior Nik Scholtz has an impressive streak in his own right, having won 10 straight matches dating back to mid-January. He has also moved up 28 spots to No. 16 in this week's ITA Singles Rankings.
Scholtz is 9-0 in dual singles matches and 4-0 in SEC play at No. 1 singles. At 4-0 in SEC play, he is the only SEC player who has played every league match at No. 1 to remain undefeated.
"He's getting better with every match," Chadwick said. "He has a great approach, as far as his mentality in these matches. The difference is he's much more determined on every single point."
"One of my goals is to go undefeated in the SEC," Scholtz said. "That's been a goal of mine every year. I haven't been able to do it yet. Hopefully, I can do it now. If I take care of winning my matches, the ranking will take care of itself, so I wasn't too concerned about that. I was more concerned about winning and doing what I have to do when I'm on the court."
For Scholtz, a Caledon, South Africa native, he has become immersed in the rivalry, having played five previous matches against Mississippi State -- two at River Hills Club in Jackson and one each in Oxford, Starkville and Seattle, where the schools matched up in the ITA National Team Indoor last season.
"Before I came here, I never knew what it was," said Scholtz of the rivalry. "It's one of the first things you learn. When you play State, it's one of the biggest matches there is. It brings a little bit extra out of everyone, that's for sure. I can't wait for Sunday."
With baseball, softball and track all on the road this weekend, Sunday's men's tennis match is the only game in town, and both Chadwick and Scholtz anticipate a large crowd.
"The matches that we have been successful here, I give the fans the credit," Chadwick said. "If we are going to take down Mississippi State, we're going to need a big crowd here. I would like to see one of the largest crowds we have ever had."
"It always helps, especially having people that you know are behind you," Scholtz said. "When you play an away match, you kind of hope no one is there. When you play at home, the more people you have out there supporting you, the better. That's why you play the game and practice every day, to master your craft and then to come out and show everybody what you're capable of doing. It's more motivation. You try to please yourself and your school, but also the people watching you."
The Ole Miss men's tennis team kicks off Southeastern Conference play, as they host No. 31 Auburn and No. 37 Alabama this weekend at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The Rebels enter the weekend with a 2-3 record, and they see the start of league play as the beginning of a new season.
"It's very exciting," said senior Johan Backstrom. "It's going to be like a new start for us. This feels like the beginning of the season. We feel like if we play up to our potential with the team that we have now, we can cause some damage in the SEC this year."
The Southeastern Conference race appears wide open, with six teams ranked in the top 25 but no teams ranked in the top 10 in this week's ITA National Team rankings.
The defending champion and preseason favorite, Georgia, is 3-5 overall and ranked No. 35, with losses to No. 22 Florida and No. 16 Mississippi State at the ITA National Team Indoor. The highest ranked team, No. 11 Tennessee, is 10-3 overall, with a loss to No. 13 Texas A&M. Ole Miss was picked sixth in the coaches' preseason poll.
"The SEC is wide open," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "It's already been proven that any team can beat any other team in the SEC, so it's going to be a tough weekend because Alabama and Auburn both have quality programs."
"It's hard to predict, and there are going to be a lot of close matches," Backstrom added. "With Ricardo (Jorge) being eligible, we have a deep team. If we play to our potential, we should have a really good chance of winning championships this year."
Jorge, a freshman from Tavira, Portugal, made his debut last weekend in Waco, Texas, where the Rebels went 1-1 with a 4-0 win over SMU and a 4-0 loss to No. 7 Baylor. Jorge won at No. 5 singles to clinch the win against SMU and then paired with junior Nik Scholtz at No. 2 doubles for a win against Baylor.
"He has good returns," Chadwick said. "He's a good natural doubles player because he's good at the net. In singles, he relies on his forehand. He likes to dictate the play with it. He's very fast with his feet. He has a really good overall game. From a coaching standpoint, he is an easy young man to work with and listens well. He is an extremely hard worker. He's going to be a good one."
A year ago, Ole Miss defeated Auburn and Alabama in the regular season, both by a score of 4-3, but in the SEC Tournament, 12-seed Alabama upset 5-seed Ole Miss, 4-3.
"We need to get off to a good start, and these are two teams that we match up well with, and we're playing at home, so we need to take advantage of that," Chadwick said. "They're very similar to last year's teams. It's a lot of the same faces. When you look at the results this fall, both of them have improved since last year."
Ole Miss begins play this weekend against Auburn Friday at 2 p.m., and then concludes against Alabama Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Ole Miss men's tennis team, ranked No. 10 in the nation, lost a pair of hard-fought matches in the ITA-Kick-Off Weekend, first to No. 26 Michigan (4-3) on Saturday and then to No. 25 Clemson (4-2) on Sunday.
"The first thing that I saw was Nik Scholtz played really well, and he's really proving himself to be one of the best players in the country. The other person if I single out what I really liked is Johan Backstrom who played great," head coach Billy Chadwick said of the weekend. He played absolutely great."
Scholtz, ranked No. 15 in the nation, won both of his singles matches at No. 1 singles in straight sets. It was vintage Scholtz, a two-time All-American, who battled elbow injuries late last season.
The story of the weekend, however, was the stellar play of Johan Backstrom, the team's lone senior. He won both of his singles matches, including a dominant 6-0, 6-4 win over Clemson's Austin Ansari on Sunday.
Backstrom entered the weekend with a 32-27 career record in dual singles matches, having played mostly No. 5 and No. 6 singles in his first three seasons for the Rebels.
And after being limited to just two matches, both in doubles, during the fall season, the Uppsala, Sweden native is playing perhaps the best tennis of his career.
"I played very well in both matches this weekend, especially today in my first set," Backstrom said. "It was really good. I was doing what we have been working on in practice with the coaches, so that's a great feeling to be able to show that improvement in a match. It was good for me."
Ole Miss has a relatively young team, especially at the bottom of the lineup in singles and doubles, including redshirt freshman Vinod Gowda at No. 5 singles and Zach Wilder at No. 6 singles, as well as sophomore Joe Rogers who teamed with Wilder at No. 3 doubles.
This weekend marked the first career dual matches for both Gowda and Rogers, while it was the third and fourth career dual singles matches for Wilder.
"They're fighting very hard," Backstrom said. "It's tough to come in there. Vinod had a great effort today coming back. Yesterday, it was first dual match. He showed today that he learned from that and he was able to come back today. Zach just has to keep on working, and I'm 100 percent sure he will play better and better through the season and bring us some wins in the future."
Backstrom has embraced his role as one of the older, more experienced players, as he looks to continue his steady play and help the underclassmen on the team.
"You have to act more like a leader and lead by example in everything you do, on and off the court," he said. "You help the younger guys to play at their potential. It's a different feeling when you're out there, but I like it."
Jan. 13-19, 2014
This is a new feature we're going to do each week on the blog. Each Monday we will recap everything that has happened in the past week in Ole Miss athletics, and we will also list a schedule of upcoming games, matches and meets.
- Senior guard Marshall Henderson was named SEC Player of the Week after posting 22.0 points and 3.5 assists in a pair of wins last week.
- Sophomore forward Anthony Perez scored a career-high 22 points in a road win at South Carolina. It was the Rebels' first win in Columbia since 2001.
- Freshman forward Sebastian Saiz scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the overtime win over LSU on Wednesday. Ole Miss outscored the Tigers 19-5 in the overtime period to blow past LSU.
Track & Field
- The No. 16 Ole Miss men and the Rebel women performed well against high-level indoor track & field competition at last weekend's Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., led by another meet record by pole vaulter Sam Kendricks.
- Kendricks set a meet record and bested the next closest vaulter by a foot and a half with his winning clearance of 18-0.5. It was the second straight weekend that he set a meet record, as he established the nation's best vault of the indoor season a week earlier with his school-record 18-4.75 at the UAB Blazer Invitational en route to SEC Men's Field Athlete of the Week honors.
- Other highlights included senior Phillip Young in the triple jump (52-2.5), freshman Jalen Miller in the 60 meters (6.67) and 200 meters (21.45), sophomore Onyi Afoaku in the weight throw (62-10.75), and freshman Robert Domanic in the mile (4:07.20), all of which rank highly in the NCAA this year.
- For the women, senior Fabia McDonald had a strong pentathlon score of 3,989 (just off her school record of 4,005) that ranks her second nationally this year.
- The No. 11 ranked Rebels participated in the MLK Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech Jan. 18-20.
- The round robin format included doubles and singles against Georgia Tech, No. 3 Georgia and No. 21 Memphis. No team scoring was in effect.
- Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 15 nationally, went 2-1 in singles to lead the Rebels. Scholtz also teamed up with Johan Backstrom in doubles for the first time − after two years with former All-American Jonas Lutjen − and the pair defeated 12th-ranked Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland from Georgia.
- Ole Miss hosts the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26. The Rebels face No. 26 Michigan Saturday at 10 a.m. The regional also includes No. 22 Illinois and No. 23 Clemson.
- The Rebels participated in the Michigan Invitational Jan. 18-20 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team played singles and doubles against No. 11 Michigan, No. 21 Georgia Tech and South Florida.
- Junior Julia Jones and sophomore Marija Milutinovic went 2-1 in singles. Jones improved to 11-4 on the year and Milutinovic improved to 8-4.
- Freshman Zalina Khairudinova made her debut for the Rebels, going 1-1 in singles and 2-0 in doubles with Julia Jones.
- The Rebels host Jackson State Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Gillom Sports Center in their home and dual match opener. Admission is free and fans will receive an Ole Miss tennis t-shirt and enjoy popcorn between doubles and singles.
- Ole Miss went 0-2 on the week with an 80-74 loss to No. 24/25 Vanderbilt, and a heartbreaking 68-65 road loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss is now 9-10 on the year and 0-5 in SEC play.
- Valencia McFarland set a new career-high against Vanderbilt with 28 points, besting her previous mark of 25 set against Alabama in 2010-11
- Tia Faleru picked up her fifth game or 20 or more points with 20 points against Vanderbilt, she has reached the 20+ mark six times in her career.
- Faleru is nearing the 1,000-point mark, as she is just 245 points from the milestone. She would become Ole Miss' 17th 1,000-point scorer.
- Monique Jackson posted her first game in double-figures this season with a career-high 11 points and six rebounds, going 5-of-5 from the field against Arkansas.
- After an almost two-month break, the Rebels began the spring season hosting No. 4 Jacksonville State and No. 5 Nebraska.
- The Rebels posted a season-high aggregate of 4637, falling to Nebraska (4643) by just six shots. Jacksonville State finished with a 4655.
- Senior Alivia Yeager shot a season-high 577 in smallbore to lead the Rebels. She finished with a season-high aggregate of 1157.
- Freshman Alison Weisz tied her season-best with a 591 in air rifle. Weisz, with a 567 in smallbore, eclipsed her season average in aggregate with a season-high total of 1158.
- Senior Abbey Stanec scored above her average in total aggregate with an 1165.
Men's tennis - Georgia Tech Invitational - All Day
Women's tennis - Michigan Invitational - All Day
Women's tennis vs. Jackson State - 2:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at Vanderbilt - 8:00 p.m.
Women's basketball vs. Mississippi State - 6:00 p.m.
Track & Field - Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational - All Day
Men's tennis vs. Michigan - 10:00 a.m.
Women's tennis vs. Oklahoma - 2:00 p.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Men's basketball vs. Mississippi State - 3:00 p.m.
Track & Field - Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational - All Day
Rifle - Withrow Invitational - 8:00 a.m. (Murray, Ky.)
Women's basketball vs. LSU - 1:00 p.m.
Men's tennis vs. Clemson/Illinois - TBA (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis vs. Alabama/William & Mary - TBA (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Three things from Ole Miss men's tennis head coach Billy Chadwick, previewing the 2014 season and the Rebels' first tournament, the MLK Invitational at Georgia Tech, which starts Saturday:
1. 'He Can Be The Best Player In The Country'
As Chadwick enters his last season as head coach before retiring after the season, he told the team he wants to make this their best spring, and it all starts with two-time All-American Nik Scholtz, who is ranked No. 15 in the nation.
"Nik Scholtz, if he gets to playing like he can play, he can be the best player in the country," Chadwick said. "He can win the NCAA's. He's one of those who are up there. He will be playing at the top spot for us."
The junior from Caledon, South Africa, ended the 2013 season ranked No. 17 in the nation in singles and No. 4 doubles. He posted a 20-9 overall record, 12-6 at No. 1 singles, and teamed with now-graduated Jonas Lutjen for a 20-7 overall record in doubles, despite battling an elbow late in the season.
"He has to be healthy," Chadwick said of Scholtz. "There are different things that we have been working on that are necessary for him, if he's going to make the transition from college to pro, and he has a good pro future ahead of him. If we get those things starting to fall into place, which they will, watch out for him. He's one the nation's best.
2. The Supporting Cast
Coming off a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season, Ole Miss enters the 2014 season ranked No. 11 in the nation, which is fourth among Southeastern Conference teams. The Rebels return four of their top six players, led by Scholtz, and then there's the supporting cast.
"When I look at the heart of the lineup, it's three Swedes," Chadwick said. "It's William Kallberg, Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark. Of that group, Backstrom is a senior, and he's looking to make his senior year his best year yet. We feel like that the heart of our lineup, we're looking good, and we have Vinod (Gowda) to throw in the mix also. And then to anchor things, we have Zach Wilder."
Kallberg and Lindmark are ranked No. 104 and No. 108, respectively, and combine for the nation's No. 51 doubles team. Of the three Swedes, Chadwick looks for Kallberg into the No. 2 singles spot vacated by Lutjen
"William Kallberg had an outstanding fall," Chadwick said. "If you look at his record last year, he played No. 3 and No. 4 singles, and he was the most competitive of any position we had. He played really well last year and stepped up. The match that I remember the most with him is when he clinched the match for us against Georgia. He has a real weapon with his left hand, especially with his forehand. We not only look for him to play No. 2 singles, but to play No. 2 singles and win.
3. Looking Ahead To The ITA Kickoff Weekend
The last season of the Billy Chadwick era begins this weekend at the Georgia Tech Invitational (Jan. 18-20), where Ole Miss will play singles and doubles matches against players from No. 3 Georgia, No. 21 Memphis and Georgia Tech.
It's a tune-up for the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26, where Ole Miss will begin play against No. 26 Michigan, followed by a match against either No. 22 Illinois or No. 23 Clemson. The Rebels' first match is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Gillom Sports Center hours before the Ole Miss men's basketball teams hosts intrastate rival Mississippi State on campus.
"Se scheduled it to where we are going to play in the morning because basketball plays at 3 o'clock in the afternoon against Mississippi State, so we hope to make it a sports weekend for the Ole Miss fans," Chadwick said.
"It's outstanding competition in the regional that we're hosting. You have four big names in there and all of them are really good tennis programs with great history. From the first hit, it's going to be competitive. It's really going to show where we are."
Head coach Billy Chadwick will step down at the end of the 2014 season, and associate head coach Toby Hansson was named his successor and will take the reins of the program following the season.
"Coaches in waiting, we've seen that a lot but it doesn't really work in a whole lot of places," athletics director Ross Bjork said. "We had a definitive timeline and a definitive decision, and why not go through the season where we can celebrate Billy but also prep Toby because he's ready and he's capable."
With Chadwick's endorsement, Ole Miss interviewed Hansson and came to a decision to make him the next head coach in August. Continuity was also a key part of the decision, as Hansson enters his eighth year with the program.
"We went through a process where we analyzed Toby," Bjork said. "We interviewed him. We talked about recruiting and what we need to do to continue to build the program. He checked the mark on all of them. It's the right decision for the program."
An integral part of the program's success over the last seven years, Hansson knows the program in and out, and it's a dream job for the Uppsala, Sweden native and former SMU All-American.
"I had gotten some offers from other schools for different jobs," Hansson said. "When this came up, obviously this is a dream job for me. And I'm just really excited about it. I'm glad to be here."
In Hansson's tenure at Ole Miss, the Rebels have won five SEC West Championships, the regular season SEC Championship and two SEC Tournament Championships. Hansson is regarded as one of the top coaches in the country in developing players and has helped produced the most All-Americans in the country (11) during his tenure at Ole Miss.
"Toby is one of the top young coaches in the country," Chadwick said. "We have been very fortunate, and a lot of our success stems directly to him. For him to take over the program, we're not going to have a bump in the road. The program is in great hands.
"You never find anyone that does not like Toby. He's extremely likable, and at the same time, he's a good disciplinarian, and he knows tennis. He's one of the best tennis minds in the country."
Hansson has learned a lot from working with Chadwick, particularly making the players feel comfortable and create a family atmosphere with players from across the country and around the world.
"When the players come here, it's a new place," Hansson said. "Making them feel comfortable and developing them is one of the biggest keys to success."
"I'm really happy for Toby," said sophomore Stefan Lindmark, a native of Stockholm, Sweden. "He's a really great coach as well. He really loves the game. He's so into it, but that makes us even more pumped to work hard for him."
By making the announcement before the 2014 season, it's a way to have a parade for Chadwick's legendary career throughout the season, as well as give Hansson an extended period of time to find an assistant coach for when he takes over following the season.
"I got some really big shoes to fill, and I'm going to take it step by step," Hansson said. "We have a big season ahead of us, so right now, that's where my focus is."
"We know that good things are headed for us, not just in more hardware for the university, but great student-athletes and lives changed," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "It's a great day for Ole Miss."