PALO ALTO, Calif. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Not many in the college tennis world gave the Ole Miss men's tennis team much hope to advance out of the Stanford regional, but the Rebels believed, and on Sunday they came back from the brink of defeat to oust No. 4 seed Stanford 4-3 at the Taube Tennis Stadium and advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
It was an epic college tennis match that came down to the last court with freshman Finn Reynolds battling Stanford sophomore William Genesen at No. 6 singles. The winner would take their team to the Sweet Sixteen, the loser's season would be over.
Genesen got the upper hand early winning the first set 6-3, but Reynolds battled back in the second set. At 5-5, Genesen broke Reynolds and served for the match, but Reynolds broke right back to force a tiebreaker. Genesen raced out to a 6-3 lead, but one-by-one, Reynolds saved all the match points and won the breaker 8-6 to force a winner-take-all third set.
With the home crowd on his side, Genesen broke to start the third set and led 2-0, but Reynolds broke right back. He never blinked after that, closing out the set 6-2 and the match, as his teammates mobbed him on the court.
During the season, the Rebels faced plenty of adversity with multiple injuries, including losing their No. 1 player, Gustav Hansson, for two months. Head coach Toby Hansson encouraged the team to keep believing and fighting for an NCAA berth and you never know what might happen once you get there. The Rebels came up with a huge win against South Carolina at the SEC Tournament to assure themselves a 25th consecutive NCAA bid, setting them up for this historic weekend.
In the opening round, the Rebels topped Duke 4-3 to set up the first NCAA match against Stanford since 1997. The Cardinal came into Sunday undefeated at home this season and having not lost an NCAA home match since 2006.
Ole Miss played great doubles again Sunday taking a pair of 7-5 wins on courts three and one for the 1-0 lead.
Filip Kraljevic defeated Sameer Kumar 7-5 6-3 on court three to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead, but Stanford reeled off three consecutive wins on courts four, one and five, to go up 3-2.
Sophomore Tim Sandkaulen came up with a huge win, taking out former junior World No. 1 Alex Geller 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2 singles to even the match 3-3 and set up his teammate for the match-clinching victory.