May 15, 2010

*Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Ole Miss men's tennis team battled all the way to the end against 10th-ranked Texas A&M here Saturday, but came up just short, 4-2, at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.

The Aggies advance to the Sweet Sixteen, while the 18th-ranked Rebels end their season at 19-8.

"Congratulations to Texas A&M. They have a great program. We fought hard; it was a great college match. We came up short," head coach Billy Chadwick said.

Texas A&M won a close doubles point to take the 1-0 lead. They picked up 8-6 wins on courts three and two to secure the point. For Tucker Vorster and Jonas Lutjen, it marked their first loss in nine matches.

The Aggies appeared to have all the momentum after winning the doubles and then taking the first sets on four singles courts. But the Rebels play against the best every weekend in the SEC, so as expected, they wouldn't go away without a fight.

Vorster, ranked No. 97 in the nation, evened the match with a solid 6-3, 6-4 win over 39th-ranked Jeff Dadamo at No. 2 singles. He had a solid year in his first season playing singles, earning All-SEC second team honors.

Texas A&M regained the lead when Marcus Lunt held off Rebel freshman Harry Fowler in three sets. Fowler lost the first set 6-0, but rebounded to win the second 6-3. He was up a break in the third, 4-2, but lost the set 6-4.

The Rebels answered when Marcel Thiemann earned his best win as a Rebel, rallying to knock off sixth-ranked Austin Krajcek in three sets. Thiemann, ranked No. 33, came back from losing the first set 6-2 to win the second 6-2. He gained an early break and held for 6-3 to even the match at 2-2. Thiemann went from playing No. 6 singles as a freshman to ending his sophomore campaign as an All-SEC first team honoree at No. 1 singles.

The other three remaining matches all went to three sets as well. A&M went back ahead when Alekey Grigorov broke freshman Jonas Lutjen to go up 4-3 in the third set. He held to win the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 for a 3-2 Aggie lead.

Chris Thiemann was one of four Rebels to rally to split sets, doing so at No. 4 singles against Alexis Klegou. After losing the first set 6-3, Thiemann took the second 6-4. At 4-4 in the third, Klegou broke Thiemann to go up 5-4. Moments later Alberto Bautista finished off freshman Adrian Forberg Skogeng 6-4 in the third set at No. 5 singles to clinch the victory.

This was a remarkable season for Ole Miss after losing four starters off last year's team and senior Kalle Norberg (sidelined with an injury). They will return all six from this year's lineup as well as Norberg in 2011.

"It's disappointing not to advance, but when we look back on the season as a whole, playing without Kalle, all these guys made the most of their opportunity. Tucker and the twins improved so much. Marcel was playing great at the end of the year. The freshmen all gained valuable experience. The future looks very bright," Chadwick said.

Marcel and Chris Thiemann will continue their season at the NCAA Individual Championships in Athens, Ga., May 26-31 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. They are in the 32-team doubles draw, while Marcel made the singles field.