Lady’Backs celebrate big win in Southeastern Conference- The Arkansas women’s tennis team picked up their first SEC win this season last Sunday against the unranked Auburn Tigers, 5-2. A win that has been long coming, the Lady’Backs snap a 0-42 losing streak that dates back to the 2000-01 season. Interestingly enough, the Lady Razorbacks last win over a conference team came over the Auburn Tigers on April 9, 2005; one day off of exactly four years from the present win. For those counting, that’s 1,462 days without a conference win.
Turnaround- With the first conference win under his belt, Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty has officially started the biggest turnaround in program history. The turnaround actually started a year ago, as Hegarty brought two junior transfers and four freshmen to the roster to give the team some much-needed depth.
Close, but no cigar- The Lady’Backs have come so close in several other conference matches, but fell just short of clinching a win. Unfortunately, there is no official way to measure how close the Lady’Backs have come to pulling an upset. But, there is more than one time Arkansas put itself in prime position for a win.
Exhibit A: March 3, 2005- The Lady’Backs open SEC play on this day against 26th ranked South Carolina. Arkansas opened by corralling their seventh doubles advantage of the year and forcing six set tiebreakers. Four third sets were forced, with each sliding away from the Lady Razorbacks to give South Carolina a win.
Exhibit B: The 55th ranked Lady’Backs are in Nashville, TN battling the fifth ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. Vlatka Jovanovic collects the biggest win of her career over eighth ranked Audra Faulk to tie the score after a dropped doubles point. Audrey Bordeleau, Yawna Allen and Karina Ledaja all won their first set. In the middle of Allen’s second set, a backhand goes a rye and she sustains a torn ACL. The injury took the wind out of the Lady’Backs sails, spiraling the Lady’Backs to a 6-1 loss.
Winning streak- Lone Arkansan Melissa Cornett is currently on a two-match conference winning streak. Cornett won her second consecutive match against the Alabama last Friday with a 7-6, 6-3, 1-0(2) over Natalie McElveen. The wins notches her career record against the Crimson Tide at 2-1. Two days later, Cornett continued this season’s conference winning streak with a 6-2, 6-1 pasting of Auburn’s Tori Almagno. With the wins, Cornett is 9-7 this spring and 6-8 against conference opponents for 2004-05.
Tough road- No One needs to tell junior transfer Vlatka Jovanovic the SEC is the most competitive women’s tennis conference in the nation. Her win last Sunday against Jelena Jovic of Auburn marked the first unranked player Jovanovic has played in a month. Six ranked opponents have come to Jovanovic’s court, with four ranking in the top eight in the nation. Jovanovic did pick up a big win during that stretch against Vanderbilt’s Audra Faulk, 6-2, 6-2.
Franco, back in action- Freshman Maryori Franco had a tough stretch this season in her young Lady Razorback career. Conference play plagued the Barranquilla, Colombia native, as she played eight matches without a win. Franco snapped the streak and captured her first career SEC win with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Auburn’s Nancy Peaden.
Senior- Lone Lady’Back senior Iliana Pacheco also notched her first conference win of the season with a 6-1, 5-7, 1-0(8) win over Auburn’s Ashley Cowart. The team win over Auburn marks the first SEC dual win of Pacheco’s career.
Combos- Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty tries to keep things mixed up when it comes to doubles. So far this season, Hegarty has put 14 different doubles combinations on the court. Of those combinations, freshmen Maryori Franco and Allison Linden have played with four different partners throughout the year.
Up next for Arkansas- The Lady’Backs prepare for their final match of the 2005 season this Saturday against LSU. The match will spotlight Iliana Pacheco as her final home match as a Lady’Back. Match time is set for 1:00 p.m. at the UA Varsity Courts, weather pending. LSU brings an 8-9 overall record and 1-7 conference record. In their last match, the Lady Tigers upset Alabama, 4-3.