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The Ole Miss women's tennis team continues to rise in the ITA National Rankings, from No. 32 to No. 26 after a sweep of Arkansas and LSU last week. The Rebels have won three straight matches and five of their last seven, with their only losses to two top-10 teams in Georgia and Vanderbilt, and have risen 23 spots in the rankings during that span.

"The last few weeks, starting with the Tennessee match, we have earned that ranking with a lot of hard work in practice and these matches," head coach Mark Beyers said. "We have put ourselves in that position and earned that ranking, so now we have to take it to the next level. All of a sudden, the potential to host is only a couple of big wins away, and we have those opportunities still ahead of us, so we're looking forward to that."

Ole Miss, now 10-5 overall and 4-4 in the SEC, has five league matches remaining starting with intra-state rival Mississippi State on Sunday in Starkville. The Rebels carry a 24-match win streak in the series into the match against what Beyers called probably Mississippi State's best team since 2005.

"This match is just this match," Beyers said. "Whatever happened the last few years doesn't really matter. It doesn't enter into our minds. We have to beat Mississippi State this Sunday, and that's going to be a tough assignment. That's the only thing that's on my mind.

"Our main objective is to take care of this match for this season and work toward a winning record in the SEC. As far as the overall record is concerned, try to get another win and position ourselves even higher in the rankings and potentially get to a point that with one big win, whether that be Texas A&M or Florida later in the year, we get the opportunity to potentially host. All of a sudden, we're not that far away from that. That's really the main objective."

VIDEO: Tennis Promos

The Ole Miss women's tennis team returns to action on Saturday, as it hosts Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. at the Gillom Sports Center. The Ole Miss men's tennis team is off this week before hosting Southern Miss on Friday, Feb. 7.


WT Sweeps JSU Ahead Of ITA Kickoff


The Ole Miss women's tennis team, ranked No. 35 in the nation, swept Jackson State 7-0 Wednesday in its home opener at the Gillom Sports Center.  The Rebels won every set in the match, dropping just two games in doubles play and 13 games in singles play.

"We had good preparation this weekend in the Michigan Invitational," head coach Mark Beyers said. "We did what we needed to do and played pretty well at some spots. Most of all, no one got hurt, and everybody is better than they were last week. That's what we need in order to be successful this weekend."

Ole Miss continues play at this weekend's ITA Kickoff in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which serves as the qualifier for the National Team Indoor Championships. The Rebels will play No. 34 Oklahoma on Saturday (2 p.m.) and then either No. 12 Alabama or No. 41 William & Mary on Sunday.

"It's a huge match against Oklahoma," Beyers said. "They have a good team with three seniors in their starting lineup. It's going to be a tough assignment.  We're looking forward to getting to know our team better and see where we are as far as competing against NCAA Tournament-quality teams. We'll see after that. If we can get past Oklahoma, hopefully we get a shot at the winner of Alabama and William & Mary and see if we can get back to Charlottesville, Va. to the National Indoors."

Ole Miss Athletics Week In Review (Jan. 13-19)

Ole Miss Athletics Week In Review
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.

Men's Basketball

- 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.

Men's Tennis

- 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.

Women's Tennis

- 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.

Women's Basketball

- 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.

Rifle

- 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.

Upcoming Schedule

Monday
Men's tennis - Georgia Tech Invitational - All Day
Women's tennis - Michigan Invitational - All Day

Wednesday
Women's tennis vs. Jackson State - 2:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at Vanderbilt - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday
Women's basketball vs. Mississippi State - 6:00 p.m.

Friday
Track & Field - Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational - All Day

Saturday
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

Sunday
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.)

Rebel Preview: Michigan Invitational

7626623.jpegThree things from Ole Miss women's tennis head coach Mark Beyers, previewing the 2014 season and the Rebels' first tournament, the Michigan Invitational, which starts Saturday:

1. Rebels Return Top Five Players

Last season, the Ole Miss women's tennis team ended with a 16-14 record and a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to No. 15-ranked Duke. This season, the Rebels return their top five players, led by the team's lone senior, Caroline Rohde-Moe. 

"A lot of these kids gained a lot of experience and we got better," Beyers said. "Last year, we were a little too inconsistent to really reach all of our goals, but hopefully from the experience they gained from last year, they will be able to apply that this year. We have basically the entire starting lineup from last year coming back and then you add Zalina (Khairudinova) to the mix, so hopefully that will be a recipe for success.

2. Balance Throughout The Lineup

The Rebels begin the spring season ranked No. 35 in the nation, which is ninth among Southeastern Conference teams. Three players -- Mai El Kamash (No. 57), Rohde-Moe (No. 87) and Julia Jones (No. 90) -- are ranked in the top 100 in singles, and Rohde-Moe combines with Marija Milutinovic for the nation's No. 19 doubles team.

"We had different players at difference times play well in the fall," Beyers said. "Julia Jones ended up winning the Little Rock Invitation, which was a great win for her. Marija Milutinovic had a tough year with some injuries, and she really turned things around this fall. Mai El Kamash had some great individual wins, and she's currently our highest-ranked player. Different people stepped up at different times. It shows that we have a lot of depth and experience, and that creates a lot of excitement for us as coaches to see how that is going to work out."

3. Getting Started, Prepping For ITA Kickoff Weekend

Ole Miss kicks off the spring season this weekend at the Michigan Invitational (Jan. 18-20), where it will play singles and doubles matches against players from No. 11 Michigan, No. 20 Georgia Tech and No. 59 South Florida. Each team will play three doubles and three singles rounds, with points allocated to each winning player or team according to the flight position.

"It's getting back into playing team matches," Beyers said. "In the fall, it's all individual stuff, and even though it's a format where it doesn't count from a team national ranking standpoint, it's still a team format, and so to get used to having everyone playing at the same time. It's also getting ready for Jackson State and then the ITA Kickoff Weekend."

After their first home match of the season, Jan. 22 against Jackson State, the Rebels will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the ITA Kickoff Weekend (Jan. 25-26). 

Ole Miss opens the ITA Kickoff Weekend against No. 34 Oklahoma and will then play either No. 12 Alabama or No. 40 William & Mary. The winner advances to the ITA National Team Indoor (Feb. 7-10) in Charlottesville, Va.

"The good thing is, you have four good teams there, four teams that finished in the RPI Top 50, so you're guaranteed two good matches," Beyers said. "We want to go 2-0 and quality for the National Indoors in Virginia, but regardless, we're going to get two good matches. Even if you go 1-1, it's going to help from a national ranking standpoint and help you later down the road when it comes to NCAA Tournament time."


The Comeback Team

Boxx_Guthrie_n.jpgFormer Ole Miss women's tennis All-Americans Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie won their second doubles title together Sunday, and they gave the patrons their money's worth, winning a third-set supertiebreaker to clinch the inaugural ButlerCars.com Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga. They defeated Emily Harman and Elizabeth Lumpkin of the United States for the win. 

Boxx and Guthrie almost didn't make it to the final.  They were down a set and 5-1 in the semifinals, but rallied to win that match 13-11 in the third set supertiebreaker.  Falling behind on Sunday was no big deal.

After Harman and Lumpkin won the first set 6-3, they broke right away in the second to go up 2-0, but Boxx and Guthrie fought back.  Both Harman and Lumpkin served for the title, but each time, Boxx and Guthrie broke to extend the match to a tiebreaker.  They won the second set breaker 7-6(4) and then jumped out to an early lead in the third set breaker going on to win it 10-4 for their second victory.

"We had a great tournament, it feels awesome to get a title after a couple of finals," Boxx said. "Abby and I played tough throughout the week, when we got down in matches we fought our way back and didn't give up." 

Doubles is all about chemistry and familiarity, and Boxx and Guthrie have both, after playing together for two years at Ole Miss before taking their game to the pro circuit.

"When we got down, we just kept telling each other to have fun and keep battling, and that seemed to work for us," Guthrie said. "I think it probably helps us that we played a lot of doubles together at Ole Miss, and many of the teams we play against don't have a regular partner. We both feel like we know each other's every move."

Sunday's win marked their second title of the year and first stateside.  Back in July, the duo captured their first pro doubles title in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. 

At Ole Miss, Boxx and Guthrie teamed up for a top-10 ranking and led the Rebels to an SEC West title and four NCAA appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen in 2010.  

Next up for the duo is another $25,000 tournament, the Rocks Open in Rock Hills, S.C.  "We're playing well, and we are both looking forward to this upcoming week," Boxx said.

Follow me on Twitter, @krebel

Rebel Duo Reunites

Former Ole Miss All-Americans and collegiate top-10 doubles duo Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie have reunited to compete in the $25,000 USTA St. Dominic Pro Circuit women's event in Jackson.  The event, which began Sunday, will run through April 7 at the River Hills Club.

Thumbnail image for Boxx_Guthrie040812_NJL.jpgThe pair will begin their tournament in the main draw doubles Tuesday.  Boxx, a former two-time All American in both singles and doubles, became the second player in Ole Miss history to achieve 200 wins combined in singles and doubles and became the second player in program history to earn All-SEC first team honors all four years. Boxx and Guthrie ended their senior year at No. 7 in the nation in doubles. 

Guthrie, a doubles specialist, helped lead the Rebels to four straight NCAA tournament appearances.  She finished her senior year ranked No. 15 in the Southern Region in addition to ranking top 10 in doubles with Boxx.

Boxx graduated from Ole Miss in 2012.  Guthrie is finishing up her degree and remains active with the Ole Miss women's team as a student assistant.

Also in the field this week is former Rebel Nika Koukhartchouk, who is competing in singles.  The former All-SEC honoree is currently ranked 467 in the world.

I Love Ole Miss Week Headlines Busy Weekend


IHOM_facebook_header.jpegWith Valentine's Day rolling in on February 14th, I Love Ole Miss week is the perfect way to show your affection for the Ole Miss Rebels. There are nine events in a five day span that are great opportunities for you to take part in cheering on the red and blue, including the home openers of Rebel Softball and Baseball. At five different events, you will be able to score a sweet I Love Ole Miss T-Shirt.  Below is a schedule of events, so mark your calendars!


I Love Ole Miss Shirts
Wednesday

Softball vs. LSU 5PM
Home Opener
Dollar Dogs and Popcorn for Fans
I Love Ole Miss T-Shirts for First 100 Fans
Fans who donate gently-used sports equipment for the Geaux Play Program will receive two free general admission tickets to the baseball home opener on February 15th.


Thursday

 Women's Basketball vs. MSU 7PM
Free I Love Ole Miss T-Shirts to All Fans
Buy 1 Get 1 Free Facebook Voucher
Russian Bar Trio at the Half
5 Rebel Rewards Points
Date Night Package Giveaway
*1 Dozen Roses
*2 Tickets to Baseball, Men's Basketball, and Women's Basketball Games
*Gift Certificates to Malco Cinema
*Couples Massage
*Dinner at Irie
*and much more
 


Friday

Women's Tennis vs. Oklahoma State 2PM
Iris Verboven Collectible Poster  
I Love Ole Miss T-Shirts to First 100 Fans
1 Rebel Rewards Point


Baseball vs. TCU 4PM
Season Opener
Tanner Mathis Collectible Poster
1 Rebel Rewards Point

Saturday

Baseball vs. TCU 1:30PM
I Love Ole Miss T-Shirts to first 500 fans
1 Rebel Rewards Point

Men's Basketball vs. Georgia 7PM
Roll Out Banners for first 1000 fans
Russian Bar Trio at the Half
1 Rebel Rewards Point
Hotty Toddy Banners
Sunday

Women's Tennis vs. Washington 11AM
Enter to win an iPod
1 Rebel Rewards Point

Baseball vs. TCU 12PM
Free Ole Miss Koozies
1 Rebel Rewards Point

Women's Basketball vs. South Carolina 1PM
1 Rebel Rewards Point





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