FAYETTEVILLE – The 32nd-ranked Razorback men’s tennis team had plenty of opportunities on Sunday afternoon to lock up its second conference win of the year, but could not get the wins it needed in singles as it dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 24 Tennessee at the Billingsley Tennis Center.
Arkansas actually clinched the early doubles point with help from the top court as junior Hall Fess
and senior Matt Walters
scored the win over Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, 8-6.
Libietis and Reese came into the match as the 7th-ranked doubles team in the nation and it was the Hog duo’s second win over a ranked opponent this year. Fess and Walters are the only Razorback doubles team to record wins over ranked doubles teams this season.
With the loss, Arkansas falls to 14-7 overall and 1-5 in Southeastern conference play. Tennessee ups their record with the win to 11-8 and 3-3 in the SEC.
The Razorbacks couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match as they came back from a doubles loss at court two to win on the remaining two courts and take the early 1-0 lead. Along with Fess and Walters’ big win at court one, sophomores Mike Nott
and Manfred Jeske
continued to have a great year as they defeated Brandon Fickey and Bryan Swartz, 8-6.
The win was the team’s 11th of the year and eighth in dual play. They continue to have a solid hold on the second most wins on the team as Fess and Walters still hold the number one spot with now 19 wins together, 11 in dual play.
As the match moved into singles, it seemed that Arkansas had the momentum it needed, but the Volunteers won first sets in three of the six matches and seemed to be taking that momentum back. Quick wins for Tennessee at courts two and six gave them the 2-1 team advantage and the other four courts were all taken to deciding third sets.
At court five, junior Mike Ward
had the early advantage winning the first set over Edward Jones, 6-2, but then proceeded to win the final two frames, 6-2, to push Tennessee’s lead even further.
With its backs against the wall, Arkansas needed to win out to take the match, but, again, couldn’t get anything in the third set at courts three and four. Walters, who dropped the first set with Brandon Fickey, 6-2, battled back to force his match to a third set with a 6-4 second set win. The third set became tied at 5-all, but Walters’ ran out of gas in the end as Fickey took the final two games for the 7-5 third set and overall match win.
Much like at court three, Jeske at court four was forced to a third set after winning the first set over Jarryd Chaplin, 7-6(3), Chaplin won set number two, 6-3, and then was able to carry that over into the third set and win the match, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
Arkansas did come away from singles with one victory as senior Nikolas Zogaj
earned his third ranked win of the year. A 6-3, 1-6, 6-6, ret. win over No. 51 Mikelis Libietis is Zogaj’s third ranked win over the last four weeks and keeps him in the team lead for wins with now 16 for the season. Zogaj has been on a roll as of late winning six of his last eight matches.
The Razorbacks hit the road for the final time next weekend as they will travel to Ole Miss and Mississippi State for their final two road matches on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Friday’s match with the Rebels is set to start at 2 p.m., while the match with the Bulldogs will begin at 1 p.m. in Starkville, Miss.
#24 Tennessee 5
#32 Arkansas 2
Complete Doubles Results
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3*
Complete Singles Results
Order of Finish: 2, 6, 5, 3*, 4, 1
No. 1 #120 Nikolas Zogaj
(ARK) def. #51 Mikelis Libietis (TENN) 6-3, 1-6, 6-6, ret.
No. 3 Brandon Fickey (TENN) def. Matt Walters
(ARK) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
No. 4 Jarryd Chaplin (TENN) def. Manfred Jeske
(ARK) 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4
No. 5 Edward Jones (TENN) def. Mike Ward
(ARK) 2-6, 6-2, 6-2