COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Another classic SEC battle came down to the last match with Ole Miss men's tennis senior Stefan Lindmark serving out a 4-3 win for the Rebels against Alabama in the SEC Championship second round Thursday at the Carolina Tennis Center.
With the match tied 3-3, all eyes turned to court two, where Lindmark had just broken Bama sophomore Korey Lovett and was set to serve it out at 5-4 in the third. Lindmark got off to a quick start in the game and only dropped one point to clinch the victory for the Rebels.
The wins sets up a rematch with No. 1 seed Georgia in the quarterfinals Friday at 1 p.m. CT.
In the first meeting on April 3, the Tide won a close doubles point and used it to their advantage in a 4-3 win. This time, Ole Miss won a tight doubles point. Freshman Fabian Fallert and sophomore Grey Hamilton dominated on court two, 6-2. Alabama got the break to win at court three, 6-4. Zvonimir Babic and Filip Kraljevic, ranked No. 28, broke the No. 4 ranked duo of Korey Lovett and Mazen Osama for a 7-5 win to clinch the point.
Bama took a 2-1 lead in the match with a pair of straight set wins on courts three and four, but the lead went away when Rebel sophomore Gustav Hansson, ranked No. 47 finished off 50th-ranked Osama 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.
The remaining three matches all went three sets and at one point the Rebels were in good position up a break in the third sets at all three. However, on court six, Landford Hills rallied to win the third set against Babic to give the Crimson Tide a 3-2 lead.
In the earlier meeting, Bama's Matthew Rossouw clinched for his team at No. 5 singles. This time, he faced a different opponent in Fallert. After dropping a close first set 6-4, Fallert rebounded to take the second set 6-3. He led 4-2 in the final set before Rossouw battled back to make it 4-4. Fallert broke again and served out the 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win to send everyone to court two for the finale.
• Ole Miss is now 15-9 overall and will face top seeded Georgia for the second time in less than a week.
• Gustav Hansson improved to 24-9 overall, 16-5 in dual matches and 4-1 at No. 1 singles.
• Stefan Lindmark improved to 19-12 overall, 13-8 in dual matches.
• Fabian Fallert improved to 6-1 at No. 5 singles.
• Fallert and Grey Hamilton improved to 14-5 overall, 9-4 at No. 2 doubles.
• Zvonimir Babic and Filip Kraljevic, clinched the doubles point knocking off the No. 4 team in the nation. It marked their first top-five win as a duo and third ranked win of the year.
Quoting Head Coach Toby Hansson... "We found a way to win. It wasn't pretty out there, but both teams were scrapping trying to get the win. Sometimes you have to just do whatever it takes to win. That's the most important thing."
On depth of team impacting the victory... "Stefan has been there before and he's a senior. We have a lot of faith in him. He wasn't playing his best, but he somehow found the energy at the end and was able to break the guy and then close it out."
On getting ready to play Georgia... "Physically we have to recover, get some good food and rest, to get ready for tomorrow. Everybody is excited to play Georgia and hopefully we'll see some good tennis out there."
Senior Stefan Lindmark... "When I saw that Fabi won, I knew that I had to give that extra effort to get it done for the team. I am happy I was able to serve it out and that we got the job done today. We are looking forward to playing Georgia again. It's always close when we play them. Hopefully we can play better tomorrow and with a little luck on our side come out on top."