March 7, 2009

Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

OXFORD, Miss.-- Tenth-ranked Ole Miss edged fourth-ranked Georgia 4-3 here Friday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The Rebels (9-2, 1-0 SEC) captured the doubles point and then got singles wins from Marcel Thiemann, Bram ten Berge and Kalle Norberg to hand Georgia only its second loss of the year. The Bulldogs dropped to 11-2 overall, 0-1 in the SEC. Over the last six seasons, the Rebels are now 63-3 at home.

In doubles, the No. 2 Rebel team of Devin Britton and Tucker Vorster beat Christian Vitulli and Borja Malo 8-4. Then, Georgia’s 12th-ranked duo of Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt upset the fifth-ranked team of ten Berge and Jonas Berg 8-6. The Rebels clinched the point at No. 3 when Norberg and Otto Sauer defeated Javier Garrapiz and Drake Bernstein 8-4. It was a rare loss for the Bulldog tandem as they began the day with a seven-match winning streak and a 9-1 mark at No. 3.

“I was impressed with the way we competed, we learned a lot and grew as a team,” said Georgia coach Manuel Diaz. “It’s tough to lose the first SEC match, but we’re on our way to becoming a better team. Ole Miss won a big doubles point and that gave them the momentum, and they played a very good match in front of a great crowd. I think we could’ve scratched out another one, but Ole Miss prepared well and peaked at this match.”

In singles, Georgia managed to win the first set in four of the six matches. Garrapiz evened the match when he took care of 32nd-ranked Britton 6-4,6-4 at No. 3 to extend his winning streak to 10 and bring his overall record to 22-6 this season. The Rebels went back on top 2-1 after Thiemann defeated Vitulli 6-2,6-2 at No. 6. Bulldog senior Josh Varela tied the match at 2-all with a 6-3,7-5 victory over Sauer at No. 5.

“Javier and Josh fought like warriors, and we’re used to seeing that, and I was impressed with how Nate stayed strong in a tough match too,” Diaz added. “It’s difficult sometimes after you lose a tiebreaker for a set and then the team match to stay focused, but he dug one out.”

Ole Miss senior Bran ten Berge rallied back for a three-set win over Bernstein at No. 4 to give the Rebels a 3-2 advantage. Then, Norberg held off junior Jamie Hunt at No. 2, winning 6-4,6-4 to clinch the victory. With the team match decided, the No. 1 contest between Schnugg and Berg went to a super tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. The Bulldog All-American picked up the win, beating Berg 7-5,6-7(8),1-0(10-6) that provided the final 4-3 margin. Schnugg is now 26-8 overall including 9-1 at the No. 1 spot in the lineup.

 #10 Ole Miss 4, #4 Georgia 3

1. Schnugg-Hunt (UGA) def. Berg-ten Berge (OM) 8-6
2. Britton-Tucker Vorster (OM) def. Vitulli-Borja Malo (UGA) 8-4
3. Norberg-Sauer (OM) def. Garrapiz-Bernstein (UGA) 8-4
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. Jonas Berg (OM) 7-5, 6-7(8), 10-6
2. Kalle Norberg (OM) def. Jamie Hunt (UGA) 6-4, 6-4
3. Javier Garrapiz (UGA) def. Devin Britton (OM) 6-4, 6-4
4. Bram ten Berge (OM) def. Drake Bernstein (UGA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
5. Josh Varela (UGA) def. Otto Sauer (OM) 6-3, 7-5
6. Marcel Thiemann (OM) def. Christian Vitulli (UGA) 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: 3, 6, 5, 4, 2, 1
Ole Miss 9-2, 1-0 SEC; Georgia 11-2, 0-1 SEC