As promised by Ivory Tower, I bring more discussion of the Ole Miss SEC Champion tennis team. The Rebs got sweet revenge on Sunday afternoon after a series of unfortunate events led to a loss
at home to the Gators in the regular season. The semifinal against the Volunteers of Tennessee deserves little note, as the match went basically as expected (and because it is almost completely overshadowed by the final). The most important point of that match had to be on Court 1 in doubles, where our sixth-ranked duo finally showed up after a streak of less-than-stellar matches with an 8-1 thrashing. This sign of resurgence in the team brought a sense of hope for going all the way.
In the final round, the Rebs expectedly snagged the doubles point, but Florida's absurdly strong singles play provided little comfort (see: wins over Ole Miss earlier in the season and Georgia the day before). At this point, you start counting matches and guessing the optimal/most likely way of winning. Yes, Jonas Berg will smoke his opponent on Court 4 (more on this Swede-nom (that's Swede-phenom) to come). Kalle Norberg can almost certainly be counted on for the third point. Where's that last one we need? Jakob could certainly do it, as could Erling or Robbye (if he's having a good day).
Well, that was about right. Jonas once again finished his match expediently, while Matthias fell on Court 2. Kalle had to fight for our third point but came through as expected. With Robbye in a third set, the final point was likely going to come from Court 1 or 6. Jakob took the second set to a tiebreaker but was beaten out by a matter of minutes by fellow senior Tveit, who clinched the match with a win over the second-ranked, cheating
(see third paragraph) Greg Ouellette.
That one match is huge for the Rebels going into Regionals--too often were we winning via the doubles point and courts 4-6 in singles. While a win may in fact be a win, RSC endorses the opinion that greater margins of victory yield much "better" wins. Strong play in the top half of the line-up will make the Rebels an extremely potent force to deal with in contention for a national championship.
The events of Saturday (i.e. the Gators' win over Georgia) posit the question of whether the Rebel squad could have overcome the deep, experienced Bulldog team. Let's check this out analytically, court-for-court, based primarily on Georgia's performance on Saturday. I will apply a loose form of the transitive property
in this reasoning, so bear with me.
In singles, Erling still clearly wins on Court 1--based on how well he played and on Ouellette's win the day before. The Rebels likely drop Courts 2 and 3 to the Dogs, but of course take 4. That puts us at 2-2 for those of you keeping score at home. I believe that we would be able to take the last two singles matches for the win, but for the sake of argument, say we split those two. In doubles, Erling and Jonas would have laid the smack down on anyone had they played as they did; and based on a very explicit use of the aforementioned transitive relation, Tucker and Jakob would have taken Court 3 easily to seal the deal. Summary: On Sunday, Ole Miss played well enough to beat just about anyone the NCAA could throw in their way.
Now, the Rebs have a couple of weeks to recuperate before Regionals (which will certainly be hosted in Oxford) and barring an apocalypse, will head to Tulsa for the Finals. [Clarification for baseball fans: In tennis, the Super-Regional stage is skipped in favor of a large equivalent of the College World Series.]