OXFORD, Miss. – The 36th-ranked Razorback women’s tennis team is in Oxford, Miss. this week for the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament. The tournament starts on Thursday and has Arkansas as the No. 10 seed facing No. 7 seed LSU in the first round. Thursday’s match between the Razorbacks and Tigers is set to start at noon.
Arkansas is coming off a regular season-ending win over No. 37 LSU last week, which allowed them to enter the tournament with an 11-12 overall record and three conference victories. The win also pushed them up seven spots in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, which keeps their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Head coach Michael Hegarty
believes last week’s win couldn’t have come at a better time for his team as postseason play begins.
“We had a difficult end to the season,” Hegarty said. “We played our last five matches on the road, but benefited from that earlier in the season, playing at home early in the season. It’s always been difficult for us to win down in Baton Rouge, so to get a win there to end the season is huge. We always want to be playing our best tennis at the end of the season and last Saturday was some of our best tennis we’ve played all spring. A good performance like that sets us up well for what we’re about to experience.”
The Razorbacks won’t have to think too far back to get a scouting report on their first round opponents. Arkansas got the nice draw of facing the same opponent in LSU two weeks in a row. Last week, the Razorbacks scored a solid 5-2 win over the Tigers, winning two out of the three doubles courts and then on courts two through five in singles for their first win since March 25. Hegarty believes this week’s match will be just as tough as last week’s even though Arkansas came away with such a good win.
“It’s interesting to play LSU again so quickly,” Hegarty said. “We expect a very similar match. A close doubles point and we hope a lot of the things that made us successful last week can reproduce this Thursday at the conference tournament in Oxford, Miss.”
Much of the late season success for the team has come on the shoulders of senior Stephanie Roy
and sophomore Laurie Gingras
, who have combined for nine conference singles wins. The rest of the Razorbacks only have seven conference victories combined. Gingras, alone, has had a stellar first year on the Razorback roster. She currently leads the team with 17 singles wins this year. Her good play has resulted in her move up to the No. 4 position in singles, where she has shined for three victories, all in conference play.
For Roy, she has exemplified senior leadership with her play on the courts. After struggling in non-conference play, the Canadian has won half of her conference matches and has platooned between the No. 1 and No. 2 position in singles with fellow senior Emily Carbone
for four dual match wins.
Roy and Carbone have also been Arkansas’ best doubles team this year as the duo is 16-15 going into Thursday’s match and is the only Arkansas’ doubles team with at least 10 dual match wins. The team was also exceptional in SEC play, winning five matches.
“Stephanie (Roy) and Laurie (Gingras) have had great springs,” Hegarty said. “Both have been playing in strong positions in the lineup. With Laurie, as a sophomore, playing at the No. 1 position in doubles with Claudine Paulson
, has really blossomed in singles as well. Stephanie has just been a rock her entire career here, so that’s no surprise to see them both doing well and I’m really happy to see it.”
First serve for Thursday’s match between the Razorbacks and Tigers is set for noon in Oxford, Miss. Live stats will be available during the match and a full match recap with complete results will be posted online following the match.