That headline gives away some of the suspense, huh?
Nevertheless, from Oxford to Starkville, racket-weilding leghumpers of both genders were treated to a healthy helping of upper-class sport dominance, courtesy of the Rebels. As referenced above, the win by the Man Rebels was Billy Chadwick's 600th win and 25th straight over State. Though clinched already, the win also moved the Rebels SEC Western Division Championship ledger to 7-4 in the SEC. Earlier in the day, the women had clinched a first round bye in the SEC Tournament by blanking State 4-0. That moved them to an 8-3 conference record, which included wins over Georgia and Tennessee.
A few notes and observations about the matches and upcoming conference tournament are after the jump.
Tucker Vorster is playing the best tennis of his Ole Miss career.
Last Friday, Tucker's mom flew in from South Africa for a visit. Since then, he has not lost in singles or doubles play. Consequently, I have requested that Coach Chadwick reschedule her return flight, or, if necessary, detain her by force until, at least, the first weekend of NCAA's has been completed. His serves are great, he is playing with a ton of energy, and whatever it was that seemed to slow him down toward the end of his matches was noticebly absent during his 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 defeat of George Coupland from State. As long as Tucker is playing solid at #2, we have a legitimate chance to beat just about anybody we will play (more on that in a moment).
Jonas Lutjen got a breakthrough win in the second set tiebreaker.
It would be tough to say that the match was on the line as Jonas battled this weirdo (the one wearing "girlfriend's" sunglasses). However, Jonas has had a tough go of it recently with close matches and, specifically, tiebreaks. He may or may not have known that the Thiemanns were struggling on Courts 1 & 4. He may or may not have known that Adrian was up two breaks on Court 5, which meant that winning his court would essentially seal the match. Whatever he knew, he dug deep and finally got a defining win in a close set.
The road through Lexington.
The Men's SEC Tournamant takes place in Lexington, where the Rebels driopped a regular season match 5-2 against Kentucky. The top 4 seeds in the tournament - all of which entered the week ranked in the Top 10 - earn first round byes. The Rebels are the 5th seed and will have to face South Carolina. Coach Chadwick has to be a little worried about some of our players' ability to endure two matches in two days, especially when their second round opponent - the home-standing Wildcats - will be fresh and rested. I have no doubt that the Rebels will beat the Gamecocks in Game 1, but a win over a Top 10 team (something the Rebels have not done this year) on their home courts is anything, but a sure thing. Should the Rebels beat Kentucky, they will almost certainly be facing John Patrick Smith and the steamrolling Tennessee Volunteers, who trucked through the SEC without a blemish (including a 7-0 win versus the Rebs). Ranked #18 last week, the Rebels can put themselves in a better position to host a regional by getting an elusive signature victory, especially with a head-scratching loss by #14 Duke to Miami and the early-season win over another competitor for a regional site, Louisville. The odds aren't great, but they will get much better if the Rebels advance to the Semis of the SEC Tournament.
The road through Athens
The Women's SEC Tournament takes place on the campus of the University of Georgia. Unlike the men, the women were able to earn a first round bye as the #2 seed (those wins against Georgia and Tennessee sure came in handy). They will meet the winner of Auburn/Arkansas match in the second round. The Lady Rebels split regular season matches, dropping the road match to Arkansas (5-2) and winning a squeaker on the Plains (4-3). The women have a lot more swagger now than they did when they lost that Arkansas match, though. On a neutral court, there is no reason to think that they won't advance to the semis for a rematch against Tennessee. So, ipso facto, you've figured out the good news: the Lady Rebs won't have to face the homstanding Dawgs or SEC regular season champ Florida until the finals. That's good news. As for their chances to host a regional? They might be better, but not by a lot.