SPORTS EDITOR BLOG — A colossal match that will play a huge role in determining if the Ole Miss Rebels host an NCAA regional or not next month will be played Wednesday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
The No. 17 Rebels host No. 2 Ohio State in a match that begins at 1:30 p.m. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 in the nation for a reason having only lost once in 25 matches. OSU, which went 36-2 last year and lost in the national title match to USC, features an extremely deep and dangerous lineup, according to Ole Miss coach Billy Chadwick.
“Four of their top six players that made the NCAAs are back. They’re very, very strong from top to bottom. The player that plays at No. 6 (singles) has played at three or four all through his years. They are one of the top teams in the country,” Chadwick said. “ But we feel, with this being outside at our place, this is a great matchup. There are a couple of key spots that we’re looking at that we’re going to have to capitalize on.”
One of those key areas will be the doubles point coming at the start of the match.
“The doubles point is going to be key in this one. I feel like it’s winnable. They have a lot, a lot of depth and what we’re going to need to do is come out, get the doubles point and then play hard at every position, see where they’re vulnerable on Wednesday and take advantage of it,” Chadwick said.
The Rebels (15-5) are coming off two home wins against Auburn and Alabama. Those two wins not only allowed them to earn yet another Southeastern Conference West title, it also gave them some momentum heading into the final week of the regular season.
“We had come off two very tough road losses prior to this past weekend and it was very important for us to get on a winning track. If you’re going to be in position to beat the No. 2 team in the nation, you have to some wins, some recent wins, to have some momentum and we feel like we have the momentum,” Chadwick said. “The season is coming to an end quickly. We’ve got the Ohio State match, we’ve got State on Saturday. Then we go to the conference tournament. We feel like what has to happen, if we’re going to be assured of hosting or put ourselves in a strong position to host, we’re going to need to be Ohio State or we’re going to have to go into the conference tournament and make the semis. If you make the semis, it means you’ve beaten a Top 10 team.
“This is one of those matches where if we could somehow come away with a victory, then we’re looking at the mindset of having the potential to go in and win the SEC Tournament because this is the No. 2 team in the nation, one of the top teams. We’ve proven we can play close to a top team. Now we have to prove we can beat one.” (April 13, 2010)