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Rebel (Tennis) Roundup

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With most teams having completed five conferences matches, the conference tennis season is almost half over, and things are shaking out a lot like expected.  The East is still dominated by Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, while Ole Miss controls the West.  However, some non-conference match-ups from the weekend helped to peg down exactly where the SEC stands in relation to her sister conferences.  Easy to follow recaps and analysis about Ole Miss' weekend match-up are after the jump.

Bottom of the conference gets upset wins

Some teams in the bottom half of the conference scored confidence-inspiring wins over non-conference opponents this past weekend.  South Carolina upset then-#25 Nebraska 4-3 in Columbia.  LSU beat #21 Wake Forest after dropping the doubles point and its first five sets, storming back to a 4-3 win in Baton Rouge.  The Gamecocks and Tigers have a combined 12-15 overall record.  Combine that with a narrow 3-4 loss by Auburn (4-9, 1-4) to a highly-ranked North Carolina team, and it is clear that the SEC is strong from top to bottom.

The East still dominates the West

Let's not kid ourselves, the SEC West is dominated by one team because only one team is very good.  West teams are 5-15 against East teams in conference play, and teams from the Western Division have no wins over the top four teams in the East (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky).  Ole Miss has at this point played one of those four.  The trend of East winning will likely continue this weekend as all six matches on Saturday are inter-divisional contests.

Conference Standings

EAST

Tennessee  5-0

Georgia 5-0

Florida 4-0

Kentucky 3-2

Vanderbilt 2-3

South Carolina 0-5

WEST

Ole Miss 4-1

LSU 2-3

MS State 1-3

Arkansas 1-4

Alabama 1-4

Auburn 1-4

Rebels Beat South Carolina 5-2

Freshmen Jonas Lutjen, Harry Fowler, and Adrian Forberg Skogeng showed up against the Gamecocks winning at 3, 6, and 5.  Tucker Vorster and Marcel Thiemann continued to play tough at 1 and 2, but each dropped.  The Thiemanns together, though, posted another dominating win at #2 doubles.  In doubles play, a trend seems to be emerging.  Generally, the Thiemann/Thiemann team gets a dominating win, and then the Rebels either win or lose by a break at 1 and 3.

How Ole Miss Has Been Winning

One way Ole Miss has been winning is that they have faced the bottom three teams in the SEC East and two teams from the West.  Another way is by winning consistently at 3, 4, 5, and 6.  The Rebels are 39-16 at those singles positions.  Chris Thiemann, who might be seen as the leader of our Rebels playing at those singles, is 13-1 since the fall.  Rebel Freshmen Jonas Lutjen, Adrien Forberg-Skogeng, and Harry Fowler are 24-14 in singles play this spring.  Even in a rebuilding year, this team is classic-Chadwick deep.

Forecasting Florida

The Rebels embark upon a brutal three-match stretch against the top teams in the East beginning with Florida on Saturday.  The #7 Gators are 12-2 overall with an undefeated conference record.  Last Sunday, their match against Mississippi State was canceled due to rain.  When they meet the Rebels, they will be fighting for Coach Andy Jackson's 100th win.  Coach Chadwick is familiar with Coach Jackson, who matched up against the Rebels as coach for Mississippi State from 1989 to 2001.  The Gators boast the sixth-ranked player in the country, Alexandre Lacroix and have run up a gaudy 25-2 record and #5 and #6 singles.  If Ole Miss can take down Florida this weekend, they can do so by winning the doubles point and matching their depth against Florida's.  The match is Sunday at 1:00 at the Chad Pad, and (in case you were thinking about going to the baseball game) it's probably the only chance you'll have to see the Rebels beat the Gators on Sunday.