FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas women's tennis team opens conference play this weekend, hosting two SEC matches at Billingsley Tennis Center. The Razorbacks will open the weekend with Kentucky on Friday at 12 p.m., and will host Vanderbilt on Sunday at 12 p.m.
Arkansas opened their home slate last weekend, earning a split of two close matches in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks opened their home schedule on Friday, and were edged 4-3 by Ohio State. UA recovered with a strong match on Sunday, mounting a comeback in a 4-3 upset of Tulsa. Arkansas trailed 3-2 late in the match, but won the last two matches as sophomore Sarah McLean and freshman Brittany Huxley prevailed to clinch the victory.
"Both matches went the distance, and came down to the last match on 4-3 score lines," Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. "There was a lot of drama on both Friday and Sunday. Overall, we're very happy with both matches. Tulsa was a really good match; we lost doubles and came back strong to win four of six singles. We have to be happy with quality of play of both matches. Atmosphere was really good. We're happy to get a split and play well."
Arkansas is led in singles by senior Claudine Paulson and freshman Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez, who are both 8-2. Arkansas has also gotten strong doubles play, clinching the doubles point in seven of 10 matches. The Razorbacks boast seven freshmen on the roster, who have combined for a 24-18 record in singles, and a 24-17 doubles record.
Arkansas will open with weekend with Kentucky, who Arkansas has beaten five consecutive years. While the Razorbacks have held the series lead recently, the Wildcats are having a strong season at 9-2 at ranked No. 53 in the ITA.
Vanderbilt, who UA faces on Sunday, is 6-4 and ranked No. 12 in the ITA rankings. The Commodores lead the all-time series between the two squads 20-5, and Arkansas' last win over VU was March 15, 2009.
"Both teams are high quality," Hegarty said. "Kentucky is having their best season in a long time, and Vanderbilt is extremely strong this year. It will be a pretty typical conference weekend. They are two high quality opponents that play hard and are very well coached. We're expecting two really strong matches, and we'll be excited to get another home weekend under our belts."
Play begins Friday at 12 p.m. and admission is free. To follow the match there will be a live blog and live stats on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.