FAYETTEVILLE - In their SEC opener, the Arkansas women's tennis team got off to a fast start, and closed strong, defeating Kentucky 4-3. The Razorbacks move to 6-5 on the season, and are 1-0 in the SEC, while Kentucky drops to 8-3, (0-1 SEC).
The Razorbacks got out to a quick 3-0 lead after winning the doubles point and getting singles victories from senior Claudine Paulson and freshman Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez. The Wildcats rallied back to 3-2, with the match hinging on two three-set matches, with Arkansas sophomore Sarah McLean and freshman Yang Pang. Arkansas clinched the match with a victory by Pang at No. 1 singles, as she defeated No. 51 Nadia Ravita 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
"I was very happy to have Pang and Sarah out there in that situation at the end," Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. "There are both amazing competitors. I knew at least one would pull through, and probably both."
In doubles, Arkansas got out to an early lead with the freshman duo of Pang and Brittany Huxley winning 8-4. The No. 1 pair of senior Claudine Paulson and freshman Segou Jonker was in a battle for their match, entering a tiebreak at 8-8 against the Wildcats' Caitlin McGraw and Nadia Ravita. Soon after Pang and Huxley put the Razorbacks ahead, Paulson and Jonker took the tiebreak 8-5, clinching the doubles point for Arkansas for the eighth time this season. The duo of Kimberley - Ann Surin and Sarah McLean were trailing 7-4, but did not finish their match.
In singles, Paulson was first to finish in a very strong performance. Arkansas' lone senior defeating Kentucky's Jessica Stiles 6-1, 6-0 to put the Razorbacks ahead 2-0. Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez was next to finish, defeating UK's Kirsten Lewis 6-3, 6-3, and giving the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead in the match. Paulson and Belmar Hernandez continue to lead the team in wins, as each is 9-2 on the spring season.
Stephanie Fox got Kentucky on the board, knocking off Brittany Huxley 7-6, 6-2. Caitlin McGraw continued the Wildcats comeback, defeating Surin in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. That set up a long conclusion to the match, with Pang and McLean each playing deep into the third set. Pang clinched the match with a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory, shortly before McLean dropped her match.
The Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday when they host No. 12 Vanderbilt. First serve at the Billingsley Tennis Center is at 12 p.m.
Arkansas 4, Kentucky 3
Complete Singles Results
1. Yang Pang (ARK) def. No. 51 Nadia Ravita (UK) 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4
2. Claudine Paulson (ARK) def. Jessica Stiles (UK) 6-1, 6-0
3. Edmee Morin (UK) def. Sarah McLean (ARK) 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
4. Caitlin McGraw (UK) def. Kimberley - Ann Surin (ARK) 7-5, 6-4
5. Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez (ARK) def. Kirsten Lewis (UK) 6-3, 6-3
6. Stephanie Fox (UK) def. Brittany Huxley (ARK) 7-6, 6-2
Complete Doubles Results
1. Claudine Paulson/ Segou Jonker (ARK) def. Caitlin McGraw / Nadia Ravita (UK) 9-8 (5)
2. Kimberley - Ann Surin/Sarah McLean (ARK) - CeCe Witten / Edmee Morin (UK) 4-7, unf.
3. Brittany Huxley/Yang Pang (ARK) def. Jessica Stiles / Kirsten Lewis (UK) 8-4