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Rebels nip Denver, advance in NCAAs

BERKELEY, Calif. — When it comes to this time of year, it’s all about survive and advance, and the Ole Miss men’s tennis team did just that Saturday afternoon at the Hellman Tennis Complex, defeating Denver 4-3 to move on in the NCAA Championships.

The Rebels advance to a second-round meeting against Cal, who beat Army 4-0 in the first round. The two teams will face off at 3 p.m. today for the right to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in Tulsa, Oklahoma next week.

When it comes down to the last match, who better to have on court than sophomore Gustav Hansson, who has been there plenty of times in his short career. After winning his first set against Denver senior Henry Craig 7-5, Hansson dropped the second set 6-2. No problem. He quickly got off to 4-1 start in the winner take all set and broke to close out the match 6-2.

With freshman Filip Kraljevic out of the lineup, Ole Miss had to switch around their doubles teams. Zvonimir Babic teamed up with Ricardo Jorge at No. 3 for a 6-3 win, but Denver earned the breaks they needed at the top two courts to secure the early 1-0 lead.

The Pioneers increased their lead to 2-0 when Wyatt Lovera beat Babic 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6 singles.

Sophomore Grey Hamilton got the Rebels on the board with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 5 singles and then Jorge, playing in his first match since April 7, stepped up big time, defeating Yannik James in straight sets at No. 3 to tie the overall match at 2-2. Jorge won a huge first set tiebreaker 7-6(3) after facing multiple set points on his serve at 5-6. He carried that momentum into the second set and won it 6-3 to tie the overall match 2-2.

Denver pulled ahead 3-2 after Pioneer David Fox closed out freshman Fabian Fallert 6-3, 7-6(4) on court four.

That left Hansson and fellow All-SEC honoree, senior Stefan Lindmark on the court with the Rebels needing both to win. It didn’t look great for Lindmark to start his match, as he lost the first set 6-0 to Denver’s Diogo Rocha. However, Lindmark is accustomed to staying out there as long as it takes and he came through with a 6-2 second set. He got the break he needed in the third and served it out 6-4 to even the overall match at 3-3, as Hansson was pulling way in his third set.