Ole Miss’ Chadwick Nets 600th Victory
Courtesy: Ole Miss Athletics
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick netted his 600th career coaching win Saturday, as the No. 18 nationally ranked Ole Miss tennis team downed Mississippi State 4-1 in front of more than 900 fans at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
With the win, the Rebels finished the regular season 16-6 overall and 7-4 in the SEC. They earned the No. 5 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament, and will face South Carolina in the first round.
Following the Rebels’ 25th straight win over the Bulldogs, Chadwick got a cold shower from his team and several former players in attendance, as they dumped a water cooler on the 2009 USPTA National College Coach of the Year.
“I can’t even remember when I got to 300,” Chadwick said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I am extremely proud of that, but more than anything it’s just a great feeling to have guys like Devin (Britton), Erling (Tveit) and Chris (Rea) back for the match. Even from one of the first teams, Russ Coningsby was here. It’s exciting to have gotten all 600 wins here at Ole Miss.”
Chadwick began his career at Ole Miss in 1979 as the women’s tennis coach and began coaching the men in 1982.
“He’s a legend, not only in Oxford, but around the college tennis world,” said junior Tucker Vorster. “He’s been recognized as the college coach of the year, so obviously he knows what he’s doing. It’s an honor to be playing for him.”
The day started off with the Rebels taking the doubles point. Mississippi State won the No. 3 match 8-2, but Tucker Vorster and Jonas Lutjen wrapped up an 8-6 win at No. 2 for their fourth in a row since moving down to that position. In a battle of nationally ranked teams, the Thiemann brothers of Marcel and Chris, ranked No. 26, were able to break the MSU duo of George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin, ranked No. 30, for an 8-6 win to clinch the point.
State got on the board when Daniel Sanchez beat Harry Fowler 6-4, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. At 1-1 and with several matches very tight, the outcome appeared in doubt for awhile.
That was until Vorster finished off his comeback win at No. 2 singles against Coupland. The first set was decided by one break, 6-4 for Coupland. But Vorster turned it around quickly and won the second set 6-3 and the decisive set 6-1 to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
“State is a good team, and they’re always going to play us well, even if their record is not very good,” Vorster said. “This was a big for us. We’ve been putting it together lately. We were a little unlucky against Ohio State, but we’ll be very confident going into the SEC Tournament.”
In a re-match from the River Hills Mississippi Cup, Lutjen faced Ilyushin at No. 3 singles, but this time the results would be different. Lutjen admitted to feeling like he was swimming in shark-infested waters in the first meeting, being that it was his first college match. After falling behind 3-0 in the first set, Lutjen rallied to win it 6-4 and then actually served for the match twice, before finally taking the second set tiebreaker 7-6(6) to increase Ole Miss’ lead to 3-1
“He played very good at the beginning. I think he hit eight winners in the first two games. It was difficult to get a rhythm,” Lutjen said. “I just tried to keep the ball in play and get loose. I knew if I played well, I could beat this guy. It was huge for me (to win the tiebreaker), because the last four matches, I’ve lost five tiebreakers.”
With the Thiemann twins locked in the third sets on their courts, freshman Adrian Forberg Skogeng made sure neither match would matter, as he finished off Bulldog Max Gregor 7-6(4), 6-2 at No. 5 singles.
“It was a great day. We had a tremendous crowd, and we did a good job from the start of the match until the end from top to bottom,” Chadwick said. “State was playing as well as they can play, and they’re a very good team. We knew that we would have to be at our best. I am really impressed that the guys just stayed in it and took care of business.
“The Thiemann brothers did a great job of staying in their matches. All of a sudden when you’ve got Adrian to close it out and you still have two matches on, it gives you such confidence. This was a great time for Jonas to come up with a big win. He was the difference maker. When he closed out that second set, it put us in a great position.”
The Rebels will head to Lexington, Ky., as the two-time defending SEC Tournament Champions.