TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ? Freshman Otto Sauer won a huge second-set tiebreaker to clinch a 4-3 win over No. 23 Alabama for the third-ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team here Friday at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
With the Rebels up 3-2 and having gone to a third set on court six, Sauer, up 6-5 in the breaker, served it out against Crimson Tide senior Daniel Buikema to give the Rebels (11-2, 3-0) their third straight SEC win.
The Rebels now head to Auburn to face the 20th-ranked Tigers Sunday at 1 p.m. Auburn lost to Mississippi State 4-3 in Auburn Friday.
Ole Miss took the early 1-0 lead against Alabama, by winning a close doubles point, against a team that had won the doubles point in 10 of their 12 matches coming in. The fifth-ranked pair of Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge won 8-6 at No. 1, and then Devin Britton and Tucker Vorster clinched the point with an 8-6 victory on court two.
Senior Jonas Berg, ranked No. 32 in the country, stepped up to the plate in singles, coming back from a set down at No. 1 against Alabama’s 66th-ranked Syketh Myneni, who had previously defeated the nation’s No. 9 ranked player last weekend. After dropping the first set 6-1, Berg won the second and third sets 6-4, 6-4 to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
Alabama (11-2, 2-1) got on the board, when Billy Mertz won two tiebreakers against Bram ten Berge at No. 4 singles. The Crimson Tide evened the match when senior Mathieu Thibaudeau staved off match points in the second set tiebreaker against Rebel freshman Devin Britton. Britton took the first set 6-4, and then held a 6-2 lead in the breaker, before Buikema mounted his comeback. At 5-5 in the third, Buikema broke Britton and served it out for the 2-2 score.
The Rebels’ have become accustomed to penciling in a win from Kalle Norberg, no matter where he plays, and he answered the call again Friday, dominating the Crimson Tide’s Michael Thompson in the third set at No.3 singles, to put the Rebels ahead 3-2 and set up Sauer’s match-clinching win. “This was an outstanding Alabama team; the best team I’ve seen here in a long time,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “It took everything we had to beat them. It was a great team effort from top to bottom. We did a good job of coming out and taking the doubles point. In singles, every match was a struggle. We had to fight them to the very end. Otto did a great job of serving out the tiebreaker up 6-5.” Alabama got the final point, when Rickey Doverspike came back to beat Rebel freshman Marcel Thiemann at No. 6. To follow the Rebels against Auburn, go to www.OleMissSports.com and click on the link in the calendar box.
DOUBLES 1. Berg/ten Berge (OM) def. Thibaudeau/Buikema (UA) 8-6 2. Britton/Tucker Vorster (OM def. Mertz/Myneni (UA) 8-6 3. Doverspike/Andrew Felsenthal (UA) def. Sauer/Norberg (OM) 8-7, def. Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3 SINGLES 1. Jonas Berg (OM) def. Saketh Myneni (UA) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 2. Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) def. Devin Britton (OM) 4-6, 7-6(6)), 7-5 3. Kalle Norberg (OM) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 4. Billy Mertz (UA) def. Bram ten Berge (OM) 7-6(5), 7-6(5) 5. Otto Sauer (OM) def. Dan Buikema (UA) 6-4, 7-6(4) 6. Ricky Doverspike (UA) def. Marcel Thiemann (OM) 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 Order of Finish: 1, 4, 2, 3, 5, 6