Big Kickoff- This weekend the Lady Razorbacks open the 2005 spring season with three matches in two days. The Lady’Backs begin Friday, Jan. 29 against Oral Roberts University, and then face Wichita State and Saint Louis on Saturday, Jan. 30.
New Staff- In the 2004 summer off-season, head coach Michael Hegarty brought in two new coaches for the 2005 season. Jon McLaughlin served as a volunteer for Hegarty in the 2003-04 season, but was promoted to full-time in early fall. Patrick Sullivan is also on board as a volunteer coach. Sullivan served as a volunteer coach for the Texas A&M men’s team before his move to Fayetteville and is currently studying law at the University of Arkansas Law School
Against Oral Roberts- The Lady’Backs hold an all-time record of 6-3 against the Golden Eagles. The last time the teams met in February of 2004, the Lady Razorbacks won easily, 6-1, in a match that took less than two hours.
Against Wichita State- Despite having not faces the Wichita State women’s tennis team in a duel match the 1990-91 season, the Lady’Backs got a first taste of the 2004-05 Shocker team this fall at the 2004 Lady Razorback Fall Invitational. At the fall tournament, the Lady’Backs were 10-0 in singles matches against the Shcokers and 2-0 in doubles play.
Against Saint Louis- Jan. 30 marks the third year in a row that the Lady’Backs play host to the Saint Louis Billikens. Arkansas has never lost a match to Saint Louis, winning both dual matches 7-0.
New Faces- In the summer of 2004, head coach Michael Hegarty brought in the single biggest incoming class of players in school history next to the inception years of the program. Along with three returnees, the 2005 Lady Razorback roster includes six new players, two junior transfers and four freshmen.
Impressive Duo- Junior transfer players Vlatka Jovanovic and Karina Ledaja have already begun make an impression in the Lady’Back tennis lineup. Combined this fall, Ledaja and Jovanovic were 21-9 in singles and 13-5 in singles.
Winning Streaks- Four Lady’Back players opened the 2004 fall season with singles winning streaks of three matches or more. Karina Ledaja began 3-0, while Maryori Franco, Vlatka Jovanovic, and Yawna Allen began 4-0 to capture their respective flight championship matches at the 2004 Lady Razorback Fall Invitational.
ITA Ranked- The Lady Razorbacks enter the 2005 spring season ranked 68th in division 1A. Freshman Maryori Franco begins the season ranked 118th by the International Tennis Association.
Tennis Seniors- The Lady’Backs return two seniors for the 2005 spring season. Iliana Pacheco hails from Dallas, Texas and was the lone Arkansas player to advance to the round of 32 at the ITA Regional Championships in Tulsa, OK. Whitney Morton enters her senior season after a strong fall that included a 6-4 singles record. When playing together, Morton and Pacheco finished the fall 2-2.
Dynamic Duo- Junior transfer Karina Ledaja and freshman Maryori Franco enjoyed a spotless fall when playing together. The pair finished 2-0 together this fall.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall- freshman Maryori Franco played the role of David in the biggest win of her career so far over Aneala Mojvis of North Carolina. At the USTA Collegiate Classic in Flushing, NY, Franco defeated the then No. 12 in the nation Mojvis 6-2, 6-4.
Native Arkansan- Junior Melissa Cornett played more singles matches last fall than any other Lady’Back player. The Little Rock native finished 8-10, which included a three-match winning streak.
Head Hog- Head coach Michael Hegarty enters his second season as head coach of the Lady Razorback tennis team. In his first year at Arkansas, Hegarty finished 8-13 in the spring season. In the 2004 fall, Hegarty’s Lady’Backs tallied 71 singles wins and 46 doubles victories.
Keeping the seed alive- Freshman Maryori Franco continues a legacy of Colombian players at the University of Arkansas that include names such as Adriana Lopez, Ana Rojas and Adriana Garcia. Franco was ranked No.1 in Columbia in 2003 and was also ranked fourth in South America among junior players. Internationally, Franco held a No. 58 worldwide junior singles ranking in 2003 from the International Tennis Federation in singles and was ranked fourth in the ITF junior doubles ranking.
I hear they’re running two a day through Arizona- As a junior player, Arizona native Yawna Allen ranked as one of the top American junior players, breaking the Top 50 in the nation in spring of 2004. In April of the same year, Allen reached the round of 32 in the Easter Bowl Championships, one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the country. The Phoenix, Arizona native earned an 18-1 record in the southwest region and three tournament titles, including the Arizona Junior Open 18s and the National Indian Championships in July 2004.
O, Canada- Canada native Audrey Bordeleau was one of the top Canadian junior players, ranking in the top 20 in 2003 heading into her final year of Canadian junior tennis. The Quebec City native is a six-time participant in the Canadian National Championships. Her top finish came in 2003 where she finished ninth. She was also ranked in the top five in the Montreal region in her age group for several seasons.
Ledaja as a Hilltopper- Karina Ledaja attended Western Kentucky University for her first two years as a college player where she anchored the Hilltoppers at the No. 1 singles position both years. She finished 30-2 at the top slot, and ended with an overall record of 47-6. In doubles, she spent her time capturing victories at the No. 1 spot, where she netted 27-8 record.
A Texan’s take- As a high school freshman, Linden earned Liberty Christian its first state tournament bid in the school’s history. The following years at nearby Flower Mound High School produced similar results. She helped lead her team to the prestigious Texas Regional Quarterfinals in spring of 2004. Linden participated in many national tournaments as well, where she made a junior career of stealing wins from nationally ranked opponents.
Beware state schools- Junior transfer Vlatka Jovanovic is perfect when facing state schools. Jovanovic opened the year against Wichita St., Oklahoma St., Southwest Missouri St, and Sam Houston State, while losing only five games total in all four matches.