FAYETTEVILLE - The No. 43 University of Arkansas women's tennis team has their first two road matches of conference play this weekend, hiitting the road to face two top-15 opponents in No. 6 Alabama and No. 14 Auburn. The Razorbacks (6-6, 1-1 SEC) opened conference play last weekend with a 4-3 win over Kentucky on Friday, and were edged 4-3 in a close match with Vanderbilt on Sunday.
"Last weekend was similar to the previous one, with some more close matches and more 4-3 scores," Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. "We got a win against Kentucky that we're really happy with. They're doing well, and we're happy to have a good win over them. Our doubles have been going strong. It was a disappointing end to the weekend, but our young team got a lot better."
Arkansas has been led by very strong play from their top singles players - Yang Pang and Claudine Paulson. The team's lone senior, Paulson is a team-leading 10-2 in sinles, and also has a team-high seven doubles victories. In the first weekend of SEC play, Paulson went 2-0 at No. 2 singles and 2-0 at No. 1 doubles.
Freshman Yang Pang has been strong at No. 1 singles, and dispatched two ranked opponents in the first two conference matches of her career. Pang defeated Kentucky's No. 51 Nadia Ravita on Friday by rallying back to win in three sets, and beat Vanderbilt's No. 61 Lauren Mira in straight sets on Sunday.
The Razorbacks will face their first top-ten opponent of the year in the Crimson Tide, who the Razorbacks are 13-15 against all-time. Alabama is 10-1, and 2-0 in the SEC. On Sunday UA will face the Tigers, who are 12-1, and 2-0 in the SEC. Arkansas holds a 17-13 edge in the all-time series against Auburn, and have won four of the past five matchups.
"Going to Alabama and Auburn is a trip we enjoy," Hegarty said. "We know it really well and we're familiar with both teams. We're excited about our first SEC trip. Our team travels will, and we got a lot better traveling during nonconference. A lot of that was preperation for weekends like this one to go as well as possible, so we can continue to improve."