Men’s, women’s tennis face pivotal home matches as 2018 regular season reaches its end

Posted on Apr 5 2018 - 6:53pm by Flint Christian

With their respective seasons hitting the home stretch, both the the men’s and women’s tennis teams face crucial matches against formidable SEC opponents over the weekend.

Sitting on a winning record this 2018 spring season, Ole Miss women’s tennis is ranked ninth nationally and has cemented its place among the elite. After squaring off against the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs last night, the No. 9 Rebels will turn their attention to the Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend. Entering the weekend 16-7, the Vols sit just outside of the top 25 and carry a three-match win streak that the Rebels will look to break.

The women jumped one spot to ninth in the latest edition of the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis rankings largely because of their recent dominance on the road. On fire in the past two weeks, four consecutive road matches for the Rebels quickly turned into four conference wins against quality SEC competition. They defeated Missouri and Arkansas in respective 4-1 wins, and they upped their level of play to take down two top-40 programs in LSU and Texas A&M by a score of 4-2.

Arianne Hartono hits a backhand over to a Memphis player earlier this season at the Indoor Tennis Facility. Photo courtesy Petre Thomas/Ole Miss

Senior Arianne Hartono continues to lead the team from the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles spot. She is ranked 15th nationally in singles, a two-spot jump from last edition of the rankings, and holds a 15-2 record on the season. Hartono also combines with sophomore Alexa Bortles at doubles to form the sixth-ranked team in the nation. The formidable tandem has earned a 10-4 record playing exclusively on the first court.

On the men’s side of the court, Ole Miss will travel to Auburn tonight and return home to Oxford on Sunday, where a huge rivalry match against No. 7 Mississippi State awaits.

Desperate to improve their 2-7 conference record with only three matches to go before the SEC Tournament, the Rebels enter as the comfortable favorite over the Tigers but will have their hands full against the in-state rivals from Starkville.

The Bulldogs have two doubles teams ranked in the top 50 nationally, and ace Nuno Borges has held a consistent presence in the top five in singles, where he currently holds the fourth spot.

For Ole Miss, a win against Alabama last Friday night was key to providing a shift in momentum, which must carry into the weekend, after a six-game skid in the midst of SEC play.

Tim Sandkaulen was the hero of the day last week as he and Grey Hamilton first teamed up to clinch the doubles point with a tight 7-6 (3) victory on the No. 1 doubles court and improve their unblemished doubles record to 5-0. The 30th-ranked singles player in the nation then went on to clinch the match with a 7-5, 7-6 (4) win over Mazen Osama. With senior and No. 1 regular Gustav Hansson out of late, the sophomore from Germany has stepped up and will have to do so again against Borges on Sunday.

After falling out of the top 25 of the Oracle/ITA rankings earlier this year, the Rebels are steadily working their way back toward that goal. The team came in at No. 35 in the latest rankings, which bettered its previous ranking of 40th.