FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After a strong showing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region V tournament at Tulsa two weeks ago, Arkansas’ tennis team has earned the right as the No. 1 seed to play host to the regional team tournament.
Arkansas, second-seeded Oklahoma State, third-seeded Oklahoma and No. 4 Tulsa play on Sunday in the Dills Indoor Tennis Center. UA and Tulsa meet in one semifinal for the right to face the OSU-OU winner in the finals. Both semifinal matches begin at 9 a.m. The championship match is two hours following the last semifinal match. At stake is a trip to the 2005 ITA National Indoors in Chicago in February. Arkansas won the regional title two years ago and finished second last year.
“The Central Region tennis committee determines the top four teams based on all fall results through the regional tournament,” UA head coach Robert Cox says. “All four teams are very, very equal. Tulsa, OSU and OU are quality teams. Everybody is on the upswing. Everybody has good depth and talent at the top of the lineup.”
UA’s performance at the regional tournament was highlighted by junior Matt Roberts and senior Imraan Ismail winning the doubles title. They went 5-0 in the tournament to improve to 8-1 for the year.
Junior Rohan Gajjar also had a big run, winning five matches and reaching the championship match before losing in the finals. Along the way, Gajjar, who is 9-3, beat teammate Adrians Zguns in the semifinals.
Roberts, Ismail and Gajjar all earned bids to the individual national indoor tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., in November. Zguns, with a No. 10 national ranking, is expected to receive an at-large bid.
“We’ve had a great fall,” Cox says. “We’ve had different guys step up and play well. Rohan emerged and reached the finals of the regional, Roberts made a good statement for himself at the All-American, and then Matt and Imraan made a great leap to become one of the top 30 doubles teams in the country.”
Overall at the Region V tournament, Roberts and Ismail won the doubles title, Gajjar was in the singles final, two Razorbacks were in the singles semifinals, three reached the quarterfinals and four advanced to the round of 16.
UA’s lineup for Sunday’s matches should have Zguns (4-3) at No. 1, Gajjar at No. 2, Roberts (12-2) at No. 3, sophomore Matt Simpson (6-3) at No. 4, Ismail (3-3) at No. 5 and sophomore Andrei Nicoara (5-4) at No. 6. Roberts and Ismail are at No. 1 doubles, Gajjar and Zguns at No. 2, and Simpson and Nicoara at No. 3.
Zguns is 2-0 this year against players from Tulsa, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, Gajjar 2-1, Ismail, Roberts and Simpson 1-1, and Nicoara 1-2.