Undefeated!- The Lady’Backs are a record 10-0 entering this Friday’s SEC opener against South Carolina. The record marks the first time a Lady’Back team has ever began a season with 10 wins, and is also the longest winning streak in Lady Razorback history.
Ranked- For the First time since 2003, the Lady Razorback tennis team finds itself ranked in the top 50. The Lady’Backs attained a top 50 ranking in this weeks poll on College Tennis Online, jumping four spots from 54th after a 7-0 victory over SMU. Freshman Maryori Franco is also ranked 65th in the nation in singes this week. The freshman’s ranking jumped 53 spots after Franco opened up the 2005 spring season with nine wins and only one loss.
The road to 10-0- The Lady’Backs opened their record setting winning streak at home with three 7-0 shutouts in one short weekend over Oral Roberts, Wichita State and Saint Louis. In the 7-0 shutout against Oral Roberts, Arkansas swept the six singles points with six identical scores, 6-0, 6-0. After opening weekend, the Lady Razorbacks traveled to Tulsa for a match against a higher ranked Golden Hurricane squad. The Lady’Backs were tested, but not outmatched as they fought their way to a 4-3 upset. Two days later, Arkansas defeated Oklahoma State by the same score. The Lady Razorbacks returned home the next weekend for Tennispalooza, a five-day, five-match tennis extravaganza. At the weekend matches, Arkansas used its momentum to shutout Southwest Missouri State, 7-0, edge Kansas State, 4-3, and down North Texas and Abilene Christian in a Sunday doubleheader, 6-1, 7-0, respectively.
SMU recap- Arkansas garnered its 10th victory of the season over Southern Methodist University in fine, shutout fashion. With the Lady’Backs ranked 53rd and the Mustangs slotted at 46th, the Arkansas seemingly had their work cut out for them, especially after a 5-2 loss to SMU just one year prior. However, the Lady Razorbacks won the doubles point and never looked back. In singles, junior transfer Vlatka Jovanovic made quick work of SMU’s Jenny Langerat the number one position, winning the match 6-1, 6-2 to put the Lady’Backs up 2-0. On the number four court, senior Iliana Pacheco completed the Arkansas shutout with a come from behind victory over SMU’s Allison Luezler, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Back in Action- After a long break from match play, the University of Arkansas women’s tennis team jumps back in action this Friday to begin the second half of the 2005 spring season. The second half brings a higher level of competition, beginning with the opening of the Southeastern Conference play against South Carolina on Friday, March 4th.
About South Carolina- The Lady’Backs fell to the Gamecocks last year in Columbia, 5-0. All-time, the Arkansas is 3-12 against its Eastern Division foe. The Lady’Backs’ last victory over South Carolina came in the 1998-99 season, 5-4.
East is no easy way to go- This Friday will mark the Lady’Backs first opportunity to beat an eastern division school since the 1998-99 season. Interestingly enough, the Lady’Backs last win over an eastern division school was over South Carolina, 5-4.
Big 20- Junior transfer Karina Ledaja became the first Lady’Back to win 20 matches during the 2004-05 season. The 20th win came over Southern Methodist’s Jennifer Chay in a classic three-set battle. Ledaja dropped the first set, 3-6, before roaring back to win sets two and three, 6-4, 6-2. The Liepaja, Latvia native is also second in winning percentage, 80.0, and second in most matches played, 25. Currently, Ledaja is 20-5 in all matches played as a Lady Razorback.
Ms. Reliability- Junior Melissa Cornett is the only native Arkansan on the 2004-05 roster, but has also played more matches than any other Lady’Back this year. The Little Rock native has played in eight of the ten spring matches and in at least two matches in every fall tournament to put her 2004-05 record at 15-11. Cornett is currently on a four-match winning streak.
Streaks- After playing five matches in five days, six Lady’Back players are currently on winning streaks of three matches or more. Junior Karina Ledaja leads the pack with an unblemished 8-0 spring record. Ledaja has not lost since the SEC Fall Coaches in November, when she fell to SEC rival Caroline Ferrell of Vanderbilt on November 7th. Since that date, Ledaja has not lost in 109 days.
More streaks- Of the six players on three-match or more winning streak, three are freshmen and two are currently second and third for longest winning streaks. Yawna Allen is currently on a six-match winning streak that began with a win over Oklahoma State’s Lauren Simmons 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Third on the list is Freshman Audrey Bordeleau, who has five consecutive wins under her belt. Her most recent win came over Abilene Christian’s Holly Lindloff, 6-2, 6-4. Junior Melissa Cornett ranks fourth in consecutive matches won with four.
Streaks Part 3- Senior Iliana Pacheco and freshman Maryori Franco are currently on three match winning streaks. The three consecutive matches won for Pacheco and Franco all came over North Texas, Abilene Christian and SMU.
Setting the bar high- Freshman Maryori Franco leads the team in winning percentage for the 2004-05 season. Her winning percentage currently sits at 87.5 with 18 wins in her 21 tries as a Lady’Back. In doubles, junior Vlatka Jovanovic holds the highest winning percentage at 76.5. It doesn’t seem to matter who she plays with, Jovanovic is 13-4 overall this season in doubles.