FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas senior Blake Strode, ranked No. 13 in the country, won the final home match of his career Sunday, defeating No. 23 Jonas Berg, 6-3, 6-2, as the No. 42 Razorbacks fell to No. 2 Ole Miss, 5-2. The Razorbacks honored Strode and fellow senior Connor Smith between doubles and singles play.“Blake did really well, finishing out his career at home with a win,” head Arkansas coach Robert Cox said. “Any program in the country would be proud to have him on its team and we’re blessed to have had him here for four years. He’s represented us well.
The Razorbacks (10-12, 2-8) looked strong in doubles to start the day, with Matt Hogan and Dmitry Lebedev earning the 8-5 victory on Court 2 over Devin Britton and Tucker Vorster.
On Court 1, Strode and partner Chris Nott made a run at the country’s No. 2 duo, Berg and Bram ten Berge but fell short, clinching the doubles point for the Rebels who had downed the Hogs’ No. 3 doubles team of Taylor King and Matt Walters in the first completed doubles match of the day.
“We were disappointed in the doubles loss,” Cox said. “We played well but Ole Miss took advantage of the mistakes we made at the end and it cost us. This season doubles has been the key for us, so losing that point was hard on us.”
Once on the singles court, Ole Miss (20-2, 10-0) continued to roll, posting wins over Nick Spinazze and Connor Smith at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, respectively and taking a 3-0 lead. While Spinazze never found his footing playing against Otto Saur, Smith came back strong in the second set of his match with Chris Thiemann before falling, 6-1, 7-5.
“Connor played well,” Cox said. “I was pleased to see him push his opponent. Connor made him work for it.”
Strode put the Hogs on the board with his win over Berg but the Rebels secured their 20th win over the season at No. 3 singles as No. 37 Norberg best Hogan in two sets, 6-2, 6-4.
“They jumped on us in singles,” Cox said. “We went toe to toe with them in several of the matches but they capitalized on everything they had in front of them and got the win.”
Nott had a tough loss on Court 2 to No. 29 Britton, the two challenging each other through the straight sets division but the Rebel coming away with the 7-5, 7-5 win.
Arkansas’ final point came at No. 4 singles where Lebedev and his opponent, No. 122-ranked ten Berge played an hour long first set that ended in a tiebreak win for the Hog. The second set went to ten Berge but Lebedev returned to form in the super-breaker, winning the set and the match, 7-6(5), 3-6, (10-7).
Next Saturday, the Hogs are in Baton Rouge, La. to face LSU in their final regular season dual match. Match time is set for noon.
For more information and for complete coverage of Arkansas men’s tennis, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
#2 Ole Miss 5, #42 Arkansas 2April 12, 2009Fayetteville, Ark.Singles1. #13 Blake Strode (UA) def. #23 Jonas Berg (UM), 6-3, 6-22. #29 Devin Britton (UM) def. Chris Nott (UA), 7-5, 7-53. #37 Kalle Norberg (UM) def. Matt Hogan (UA), 6-2, 6-44. Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. #122 Bram ten Berge (UM), 7-6(4), 3-6, (10-7)5. Otto Saur (UM) def. Nick Spinazze (UA), 6-0, 6-16. Chris Thiemann (UM) def. Connor Smith (UA), 6-1, 7-5
Doubles1. #2 Jonas Berg/Bram ten Berge (UM) def. Blake Strode/Chris Nott (UA), 9-72. Matt Hogan/Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. Devin Britton/Tucker Vorster (UM), 8-53. Kalle Norberg/Otto Saur (UM) def. Taylor King/Matt Walters (UA), 8-4
Order of Finish:Doubles: 3, 2, 1*Singles: 5, 6, 1, 3*, 2, 4