OXFORD, Miss. —In their first meeting during the regular season, the match came down to a third set tiebreaker, with the Rebels coming out on the victorious side. This time, however in the second round of the SEC Championship, it was Alabama coming out on top in a third set to clinch a 4-3 victory.
The hero in the first match, freshman Stefan Lindmark, served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but Alabama’s Becker O’Shaugnaussey broke back and won the final two games for a 6-3, 6-7(8), 7-5 win.
All eyes then turned to the No. 1 match, between two players very familiar with each other. Rebel junior Nik Scholtz and fellow South African Jarryd Botha were locked in a tight third set to decide the outcome. Scholtz held a long game including saving a match point to get to 5-5 and then Botha responded with a save of his own to go up 6-5. Scholtz had a game point to force a tiebreaker, but missed a sitting forehand into the net. Botha would break to clinch the match 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough match. We did a really good job on Stefan’s match, coming back in the second set, positioning ourselves to win, we served for it, but couldn’t get it. Their guy actually picked it up and played well at the end of the match. The guy that Nik played, Nik knows him well. They’ve played a bunch of times. Nik always wins though, but you have to give the other guy a lot of credit, he played really well.”
The Rebels took the first lead in the match by winning the doubles point with huge a tiebreaker at No. 2.
Weather played a role in Thursday’s match as the teams played doubles and part of the singles matches outdoors at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center before they were forced to move indoors to the Gillom Sports Center because of rain.
First off the court in singles, Alabama’s Stuart Kenyon handed Johan Backstrom a 6-4, 6-2 loss at No. 5 to put the Crimson Tide on the board.
Senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng answered with a decisive win against Harris Barnard 6-3, 6-1 before the matches were moved inside, giving the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
William Kallberg kept the momentum going for the Rebels by winning his match against Philippe Tsangarides 6-2, 7-5 to make 3-1 Rebels.
“It was going to go down to the wire,” Chadwick said. “When you look at it, there is a couple of matches where we didn’t play our best tennis. Jonas Lutjen is one. That’s a match that he was favored in. The kid played really solid against Jonas. Backy has been nursing an injury, and he wasn’t able to overcome it.”
The Rebels (15-8) will now wait to see if they will get to play anymore tennis at home by hosting an NCAA Regional. The NCAA selections and host sites will be announced April 30.