By Adam Brown
The No. 15 national seeded Ole Miss Rebels men’s tennis team hosts the first and second games of the NCAA tournament this weekend at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The Rebels take the court Saturday at 3 p.m. and face the Belmont Bruins.
The two other teams in the tournament are Middle Tennessee and Tulane.
Ole Miss (11-10, 7-6 SEC) peaked in the team rankings at No. 9 twice this season (March 24 and March 30) and have remained in the top-15 rankings over the last seven weeks. In regular season play, Ole Miss defeated seven ranked opponents this season including three top-12 victories. In postseason competition, the Rebels reached the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals, falling to eventual SEC Tournament Champion Tennessee.
This season, Ole Miss has won multiple individual awards.
Tim Sandkaulen and Finn Reynolds, the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the nation, both earned All-SEC First Team accolades. Nikola Slavic earned All-SEC Second Team placement after leading the Rebels in both singles victories (13) and ranked singles wins (8). Slavic was named the SEC Newcomer of the Week twice this year. Freshman John Hallquist Lithén earned a 12-7 record this season and was recognized as the SEC Freshman of the Week on March 31
Belmont comes into the NCAA Tournament with a 13-4 overall record this season and a 3-2 record in OVC play. Belmont has not faced any ranked opponents this season.
The Bruins are led by OVC Player of the Year Marko Ilic. Ilic earned an 11-4 dual singles record and 10-5 doubles record this season alongside Tasei Miyamoto. Belmont placed three student-athletes on the All-OVC list, Ilic on the first team and Arthur Toledo and Tomas Luis on the second team. Toledo co-led the Bruins with 13 singles wins this season, and Luis earned double-digit victories with 10.
Ole Miss has reached the NCAA Championships for the 27th consecutive season (excluding the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season). Ole Miss has been selected for 29 NCAA Championships in program history. The Rebels reached the NCAA Finals in 1995 and have made it to the Final Four four times, most recently in 2005.
The Rebels have to win both rounds to advance to Orlando, Florida for the NCAA Team Championships at the USTA National Campus. The USTA National Campus will host matches from the Sweet 16 through the finals from May 16-28.
The second round of the regional will be Sunday at 1 p.m. when the winner of the Ole Miss vs Belmont match will take on the winner of the Tulane vs Middle Tennessee matchup.