NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ole Miss women's tennis freshman Alexa Bortles came up big for the Rebels Wednesday in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Championship, beating the No. 15 ranked team in doubles and then clinching a 4-2 win against Missouri, at the Currey Tennis Center.
With the No. 2 singles match in a third set and the Rebels clinging to a 3-2 lead, Bortles came through in the middle of the third set at No. 6 singles, breaking Missouri's Clare Raley for a 4-2 lead and ultimately winning 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to send the Rebels on to the second round against Kentucky.
In their first meeting of the year, Missouri won the doubles point, but this time, the Rebels would take the early momentum.
Bortles and junior Arianne Hartono, ranked No. 47 in doubles, got the day started with a 6-3 win against 15th-ranked Bea Machado Santos and Amina Ismail at the No. 1 spot. Zalina Khairudinova and Natalie Suk won 6-3 at No. 2 to clinch the point.
Sophomore Tea Jandric made it 2-0 Rebels with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 5 singles against Ismail.
Missouri answered with two straight-set wins at three and four singles to tie it up 2-2, before 33rd-ranked Hartono finished off 82nd-ranked Santos 7-5, 7-6(3) at No. 1 singles to give the Rebels the 3-2 lead and set up Bortles for the clinch.
At the net...
• The Rebels are now 14-12 on the year
• The Rebels have now won two straight against Missouri
• Alexa Bortles clinched her first SEC match for the Rebels
• Bortles improved to 9-5 overall and 7-3 at No. 6 singles
• Arianne Hartono earned her 8th ranked win of the year and second straight against Bea Machado Santos
• Tea Jandric improved to 9-6 at No. 5 singles
• Hartono and Bortles evened their record at No. 1 doubles to 5-5 and earned their third ranked win
Doubles 1. #47 Bortles/Hartono (OM) def. #15 Santos/Ismail (MIZ) 6-3 2. Suk/Khairudinova (OM) def. Middlebrook/Spearman (MIZ) 6-3 3. Vrbenska/Jandric (OM) vs. Raley/Schroeder (MIZ) 5-4, sus. Order of Finish: 1, 2
Singles 1. #33 Arianne Hartono (OM) def. #82 Bea Machado Santos (MIZ) 7-5, 7-6(3) 2. #78 Natalie Suk (OM) vs. Tate Schroeder (MIZ) 7-6(4), 4-6, 1-2, sus. 3. Cassidy Spearman (MIZ) def. Zalina Khairudinova (OM) 6-1, 6-4 4. Mackenzy Middlebrook (MIZ) def. Anna Vrbenska (OM) 7-5, 6-4 5. Tea Jandric (OM) def. Amina Ismail (MIZ) 6-1, 6-4 6. Alexa Bortles (OM) def. Clare Raley (MIZ) 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 Order of Finish: 5, 3, 4, 1, 6
Thoughts from head coach Mark Beyers... "It was a heck of a battle today against a very tough Missouri team. Winning the doubles point was a nice boost of confidence for us, especially since Missouri took the doubles point from us the last time we played. Singles were back and forth, with the momentum switching quite a few times. Great straight set win from Tea, and then a clutch second set tiebreaker by Ari to put us up 3-2. Alexa showed a lot of poise for a freshman, not panicking after losing the second set."
Up next... The Rebels will face the No. 5 seed, Kentucky, in the second round Thursday at 6 p.m.