The Ole Miss men’s tennis team returned to the win column on Sunday, as the Rebels were able to take down No. 70 Vanderbilt in Nashville, 5-2.
The Rebels (13-5, 3-3 SEC) battled their way to a tight doubles victory, which set the tone early for Ole Miss. Key third-set wins by the Rebels in singles proved to be the deciding factor, as the Commodores (6-12, 1-6 SEC) were only able to win one of four matches that went to three sets.
Ole Miss found itself on the backfoot early in doubles play, with Vanderbilt claiming a win on Court 2 doubles to threaten to take the doubles point.
The Rebels responded with an upset on Court 1, as the duo of Simon Junk and John Hallquist Lithen powered through a difficult matchup in No. 35 ranked Troost/Casabon to claim a 6-4 victory, leveling the playing field. The win marks the first ranked doubles win for Junk/Lithen this season, as well as the fourth ranked doubles win for the Rebels as a team.
All attention then turned to Court 3 doubles, as Nikola Slavic and Noah Schlagenhauf found themselves in a third-set tiebreaker to decide the doubles point. The senior-freshman combo proved clutch for the Rebels, with the pair clawing their way to a 7-4 tiebreaker win to put Ole Miss up 1-0.
Heading into singles, senior Simon Junk kept his foot on the gas following his ranked doubles win, with the Marpingen, Germany, native capturing a 7-6(4), 6-3 straight-set win to put the Rebels up 2-0. A quick response from Vanderbilt on Court 4 would bring the score to 2-1, as the remaining four matches made their way to third sets.
Lukas Engelhardt would draw first blood for the Rebels amongst the third-set matches, with Engelhardt rebounding from a 4-6 second-set loss to cruise his way to a 6-1 win in set three. Engelhardt now builds upon his team-leading win streak in singles, stringing together five straight singles victories for the Rebs.
A tough loss for Isac Strömberg in his third set once again would bring the Commodores within striking distance with the score reading 3-2, but the one-two punch of Nikola Slavic and John Hallquist Lithen didn’t leave the door open for long.
Fighting for the Rebel victory, Slavic saw the clinching win for the Rebels on Court 1, taking down Nathan Cox 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 to secure the Rebel victory on the day. Not long after, Lithen put a cherry on top of the team’s performance on Court 2, claiming a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win of his own.
The Rebels now return to Oxford for what will be a four-match homestand for Ole Miss, beginning March 31 against No. 4 South Carolina. The Rebels are set to host the Gamecocks at 4 p.m. on Friday. The team will then turn its attention to Sunday, as they host No. 51 LSU at 1 p.m. Both matches are slated to take place at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, weather permitting.
Ole Miss 5, Vanderbilt 2
John Hallquist Lithen/Simon Junk (OM) def. No. 35 Troost/Casabon (VAN) 6-4
Ross/Cox (VAN) def. Lukas Engelhardt/Isac Strömberg (OM) 6-4
Nikola Slavic/Noah Schlagenhauf (OM) def. Klopper/Sisam (VAN) 7-6(4)
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
No. 66 Nikola Slavic (OM) def. Nathan Cox (VAN) 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
John Hallquist Lithen (OM) def. Joubert Klopper (VAN) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
Simon Junk (OM) def. Michael Ross (VAN) 7-6(4), 6-3
Siim Troost (VAN) def. Noah Schlagenhauf (OM) 6-3, 6-4
Lukas Engelhardt (OM) def. Jeremie Casabon (VAN) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
Macsen Sisam (VAN) def. Isac Strömberg (OM) 6-3, (6)6-7, 6-2
Order of finish: 4, 3, 5, 6, 1, 2
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports