FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The No. 38 University of Arkansas women's tennis team travels to Evanston, Ill., this weekend to compete at the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Arkansas will play host Northwestern in the opening match, and will face either Purdue or Washington State in the second match depending on first round results.
The Razorbacks opened their season last season with a trio of 7-0 victories in Houston, Texas, defeating Prairie View A&M, UT - Pan American, and Lamar. Arkansas went 18-0 in singles, and had three freshman get their first career wins in both singles and doubles. Senior Claudine Paulson and freshmen Brittany Huxley and Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez each won three singles and three doubles matches.
"We won across the board in Houston", Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. "That was exciting, as our inexperienced players got some confidence and got some victories early in the spring. We got a look at everybody, and all nine players had multiple victories on the weekend, so we accomplished everything we were hoping too."
Arkansas has participated in the ITA Kickoff Weekend in all six years the event has been held. They are returning to the same regional site as last season. In Evanston last season, the Razorbacks defeated Dartmouth but lost to Nebraska.
"This is a great tournament," Hegarty explained. "It's the 64 best teams in the country, and we're trying to find the Indoor National Champion. We've been invited every year it's been in existence. We've been really successful on the road before. Two years ago we got through the Notre Dame Regional, and we have a similar situation this time. Our experience in this event should really help us be successful there. We were at Northwestern last year, and didn't get through regional, so we would like to go up there and take one more step than we did last year."
Coach Hegarty is currently tied with Kevin Platt for most wins in Arkansas women's tennis history with 124. With one more victory he will have the most wins of any Arkansas women's tennis head coach.
The first match for the Razorbacks is at 11:00 a.m. on Friday against Northwestern. Their second round match will be against either Purdue or Washington State. If the Razorbacks advance through the regional, they qualify for the Round of 16 on February 15th. Full recaps and results will be posted online following each day of play.