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Ole Miss Men’s Tennis Heads to Tuscaloosa for ITA Southern Championships

Ole Miss men’s tennis is set to head east to Tuscaloosa for the annual ITA Southern Championships, set to run Oct. 13-17 at the University of Alabama.

The five-day tournament will pit the best players in the ITA’s Southern Region against one another in both singles and doubles play, with a total of 18 teams being represented at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. All six Rebels will make the trip to Tuscaloosa, with underclassmen Walker Stearns and Gordon Whitwell kicking off play for the Rebels in the qualifying singles draw.

Qualifying singles is set to take place Thursday and Friday with the main draw of singles and doubles both set to follow beginning Saturday morning.

Thursday, October 13 – Qualifying Draw Singles
Friday, October 14 – Qualifying Draw Singles
Saturday, October 15 – Main Draw Singles and Doubles
Sunday, October 16 – Main Draw Singles and Doubles
Monday, October 17 – Main Draw Singles and Doubles

Nikola Slavic (Sr.*) – Stockholm, Sweden
– No. 1 overall seed in Southern Regional singles draw
– Finished 2021-22 with a singles record of 22-13 and doubles record of 18-8
– Enters the 2022 fall season ranked a career-high No. 6 in the country in singles
– Received an ITA preseason doubles ranking of No. 46 overall
– Named 2022 ITA All-American in singles play
– 2021 ITA Southern Regional Singles Champion

Lukas Engelhardt (Sr.*) – Augsburg, Germany
– Set to compete in Southern Regional singles main draw
– Earned first ranked win of 2022-23 season against No. 89 Jan Galka (Florida) at Commodore Invite
– Finished 2021-22 with 19-12 singles record and 19-13 doubles record
– Enters 2022 fall season ranked No. 46 in doubles by the ITA
– Reached peak doubles ranking of No. 2 overall in spring of 2022

John Hallquist Lithén (Jr.) – Gothenburg, Sweden
– No. 7 overall seed in Southern Regional singles draw
– Finished with 3-1 singles record at Commodore Invitational, earning two ranked singles wins
– Concluded 2021-22 with record of 18-16 in singles and 20-9 in doubles
– Earned career-high doubles ranking of No. 24 overall at conclusion of 2021 fall season
– Saw a peak ITA singles ranking of No. 98 in spring of 2022

Simon Junk (Sr.) – Marpingen, Germany
– Top 16 seed in Southern Regional singles draw
– Finished with a singles record of 21-9 and a doubles record of 14-14 in the 2021-22 season
– Ended the 2021-22 dual season winning his last seven singles matches on the year
– Reached the singles and doubles quarterfinals at the 2021 ITA Southern Regional Championships
– Currently ranks No. 24 all-time in program history in career doubles wins with 50

Walker Stearns (So.) – Germantown, Tenn.
– Set to compete in Southern Regional singles qualifying draw
– Ended his freshman campaign with singles record of 7-6 and doubles record of 1-2
– TSSAA Div. II-A Singles Champion in 2021 and 2019
– TSSAA Div. II-A Doubles Champion in 2018
– Former four-star recruit by Tennis Recruiting coming out of high school

Gordon Whitwell (Fr.) – Oxford, Miss.
– Set to compete in Southern Regional singles qualifying draw
– Earned his first collegiate singles win at Commodore Invitational with 6-1, 6-3 win over Paul Wang (Vanderbilt)
– Four-star recruit by Tennis Recruiting coming out of high school
– Two-time team state champion with Oxford High School
– No. 1 recruit from Mississippi and No. 115 recruit in the U.S. for 2022

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The ITA Southern Championships stands as the halfway point for Ole Miss men’s tennis’ 2022 fall season, marking the third of five tournaments in the team’s year-end slate. After wrapping up play in Tuscaloosa, the Rebels will then send the individuals and doubles pairings that qualify to San Diego for the ITA National Fall Championships, which will take place Nov. 2-6. That same weekend, the remaining Rebels not traveling to San Diego will head to Atlanta for the annual Georgia Tech Invitational. The GT Invite is set to run Nov. 4-6 at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex, and marks the second consecutive year that the Rebels have made the trip out east to attend the tournament.

Senior Nikola Slavic will be looking to match his performance from last year’s ITA Southern Regional Championships in this season’s installment, with the Stockholm, Sweden, native entering Tuscaloosa as the Southern Region’s defending singles champion. Slavic became just the fourth Rebel in program history to take home an ITA Regional title in singles play, marking the first since Nik Sholtz took home the championship in 2012. Entering the weekend with the No. 1 overall seed for the main draw of singles, Slavic aims to help the Rebels win back-to-back regional singles titles for the first time since Erling Tveit and Matthias Wellermann won the 2006 and 2007 championships in consecutive years.

Ole Miss travels to Tuscaloosa after competing in the 2022 All-American Championships in Tulsa just a week ago, where the Rebels finished their tournament going 3-4 in singles and 2-1 in doubles as a team. Junior John Hallquist Lithén saw the best individual performance for the Rebels, tallying a pair of singles wins in the qualifying bracket, while the ranked doubles pairing of Nikola Slavic and Lukas Engelahrdt also earned a pair of doubles victories in qualifying. Slavic was the lone Rebel to reach the main draw of the tournament, with him falling in the Round of 64 of singles to No. 21 ranked Jeffrey von der Schulenberg of Virginia.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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