When it came time to man-up Friday, the No. 16-ranked Mississippi men's tennis team was the last one standing.
Ole Miss defeated No. 19 Tennessee 5-2 in an SEC match at Barksdale Stadium and avenged a 4-3 loss to the Vols on Jan. 30 in the ITA National Indoors Kick-Off Weekend at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
"We came out and just weren't committed to win the match," UT coach Sam Winterbotham said. "It was one of those days where it was a man's game. I don't know how to better articulate it, but sometimes you just have to step in there and just say I'm going to do it, and unfortunately we didn't do that, and they did. Give them a lot of credit."
Ole Miss (6-3, 3-0 SEC) snapped UT's 21-match home winning streak in SEC play. The Vols (8-8, 1-2 SEC) had not lost in SEC play at home since losing to Ole Miss in 2008.
"I couldn't tell you what that win streak is, so that's how much that matters to me," Winterbotham said. "Every match in the SEC is crucial. We just lost an SEC match that I felt we were capable of winning, so we've got to figure out why, and I've got to do a better job as a coach to make sure that's not going to happen again."
UT and Ole Miss had lineup changes from the Jan. 30 match that left only two courts with the same matchups — at No. 1 and No. 4 singles. The Vols won both of those Jan. 30 matches indoors, but lost both on the outdoor courts Friday.
Ole Miss' Nik Scholtz (ranked No. 55) avenged a three-set loss to No. 36 Mikelis Libietis with a 6-2, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles, while the Rebels' William Kallberg (No. 49) avenged a straight-set loss to Jarryd Chaplin with a 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 4 singles.
"I remember the commitment level it took (Libietis and Chaplin) to win the first time, and I didn't see that today," Winterbotham said. "We can say whatever we want, but that's the reality. It doesn't make me feel any worse about those two guys."
UT clinched the doubles point with victories by Ed Jones and Bryan Swartz at No. 3 and Libietis and Hunter Reese at No. 1.
The victories by Scholtz and Kallberg put the Rebels up 2-1. Johan Backstrom beat Jones 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5 singles, and Adrian Skogeng clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Taylor Patrick at No. 6.
UT's only singles victory was at No. 3 singles, where Brandon Fickey won a tiebreaker (13-11) over Jonas Lutjen to decide the third set. Fickey dropped down a spot for Friday's match, changing lineup positions with Reese, who lost at No. 2 singles.
The Vols have a chance to bounce back Sunday when they play host to No. 12 Mississippi State (11-4, 2-1).
"It was pretty disappointing," Libietis said of Friday's match. "We didn't give our best in this match, so the best thing is just to move on and be ready for Sunday."