FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s tennis team released its 2012 spring schedule on Thursday and 10 home matches highlight the campaign along with 16 ranked opponents.
Even with the large number of opposing teams that finished the 2011 season ranked in the top-75 by ITA, head coach Michael Hegarty thinks that this schedule is going to give his team the needed preparation for conference play.
“Our spring schedule is once again full of strong non-conference matches that will provide excellent preparation for conference play,” Hegarty said. “The SEC is loaded as usual this year, so every match is a great opportunity.”
Of the 16 ranked teams that Arkansas will face in the spring, eight come from the SEC alone. The road will be tough for the Hogs as only three of those eight teams will visit the Billingsley Tennis Courts in Fayetteville. Alabama will face the Razorbacks on March 11, while Georgia and Ole Miss will take on the women on March 23 and 30 respectively.
The Razorbacks will actually kick off the spring with one extra individual tournament at the Michigan Quad in Ann Arbor, Mich., from Jan. 14-16. Its first team event will be against Louisville on their home court on Jan. 20.
Arkansas will follow that up with another appearance in the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Hogs have had recent success in this tournament as last year they upset No. 4 Notre Dame to advance to the ITA National Indoors Championship. The win was Arkansas’ first against a top five team since 2008. The first round opponent Arkansas will face in this year’s kickoff will be 43rd-ranked Nebraska. A win in that match will pit the team against the winner of 12th-ranked Northwestern and 54th-ranked Dartmouth.
“The ITA National Indoors Kickoff weekend is another great opportunity for us to make a national statement,” Hegarty said. “After last year’s huge road win in South Bend, I expect our team to have another great outing in Chicago this year.”
The Hogs will then return home for a five-match home stand against North Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Yale. Of those five teams, three are ranked in the top-45. The team will round out its non-conference schedule at Tulsa, DePaul and Ohio State.
The SEC slate will start against Vanderbilt and Kentucky on the road on March 2 and 4. Then, they will return home to take on Auburn and Alabama for their first home conference matches on March 9 and 11.
After Spring Break, the Hogs will host Georgia on March 23 and then travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on the No. 17 Volunteers. The home schedule will be complete after matches with Ole Miss and Mississippi State with Senior Day falling on April 1 for the match against the Bulldogs.
Arkansas will finish out the regular season on the road at Florida, South Carolina and LSU and then will compete in the SEC Tournament from April 19-22. This year’s tournament will take place on the campus of the University of Mississippi.
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