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Fall sports recap for the Razorbacks

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Fall sports recap for the Razorbacks

The Razorback men’s and women’s golf, and tennis teams enjoyed quite a bit of success during their fall seasons. Men’s and women’s golf each found themselves ranked at the end of the short season with the women slotted at 23rd and the men finding themselves among the nation’s elite programs at No. 9. Men’s tennis saw its team make great strides this fall while the women continued right where they left off last spring.

Arkansas head women’s golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor and the Razorbacks completed a solid four-event fall season with a pair of top 10 finishes. They opened the season with an 11th-place showing at the NCAA Preview and followed with a 12th-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship.

The Razorbacks next carded a season-best 885 to finish sixth at the Mercedes Benz Collegiate and wrapped up the fall with a tie for eighth at the Peg Barnard Invitational.

“It was a good fall,” Estes-Taylor said. “We grew a lot as a team and learned so much about ourselves with each event. I’m pleased with the progress we made and I know that we can continue to improve this spring.”

Sophomore Kelli Shean paced the team with a 74.42 stroke average over four events. Shean had one top 10 finish with a career-best 216 at the Mercedes Benz.

Senior Lucy Nunn was second on the team with a 74.92 average followed by Kristin Ingram with a 75.08.

Following Arkansas’ successful fall campaign, Estes-Taylor was selected for induction to the National Golf Coaches Association Coaches and Players Hall of Fame. Estes-Taylor was a standout player at Georgia. She was a four-time All-American and paced her team to three consecutive SEC Championships.

The Razorback women return to the links March 13-15 at the LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic.

The 2008 fall season for the Arkansas men’s golf team came to a close, but the accolades continue to follow the Razorbacks into the off-season. The fourth and final Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Coaches’ Poll of the fall season was released on Nov. 12, ranking Arkansas in the top 10, at No. 9, receiving 335 points.

The Razorbacks had an exciting season with five tournament appearances, including wins at the Maryland Collegiate Invitational and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic. Individually, the team posted eight top 10 finishes. In the previous poll the Razorbacks were ranked No. 14.

“It is such an honor to be placed in the Top 10 in the Coaches’ poll,” head men’s golf coach Brad McMakin said. “I think it really shows the improvement of the team and gives credence to the work that we have done. It is a program that we continue to build and we are starting to see some of the results. We are in good company.”

The men’s golf team starts its spring season Feb. 23-25 at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate.

Arkansas’ men’s tennis team was led the entire fall semester by senior Blake Strode and sophomore Matt Hogan. The tandem were not just ranked individually as the year began, but made a formidable doubles team.

Nine Razorbacks qualified for the singles draw of the Wilson/ITA Central Region Championships hosted by Arkansas at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center and Dills Indoor Courts. Hogan reached the finals to qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships. To get there, Hogan beat the No. 22-ranked player and the 81st-ranked player before falling to No. 6 6 Arnau Brugues of Tulsa.

“Hogan had a breakout season this fall, and it was great for him to be a part of this national event [ITA National Indoor Championships] among some of the best players in the country,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said.

Strode reached the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American in October, qualifying him for the ITA National Indoor as well. At the All-American, Strode posted wins over No. 9 Bryan Koniecko of Ohio State and Brugues. In the quarters, Strode lost to No. 20, Michael Venus of LSU, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The men’s tennis team begins its spring schedule on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the SEC Indoor Invitational in Lexington, Ky.

Women’s tennis started and finished its fall season right where it left off last spring with an impressive run. As a team, the women completed their fall tournaments 61-20 in singles action and 26-11 in doubles. Arkansas’ top player, Aurelija Miseviciute, a semi-finalist at the NCAA Championships last spring, won her second consecutive ITA National Indoor Singles Championship and dropped just one of her 17 matches during the fall. She began and ended the fall season as the No. 1 player in the nation. Sophomore Anouk Tigu and senior Nanar Airapetian finished their fall 8-3 in doubles action, including a championship at the ITA Central Region Tournament.

Arkansas’ women open the 2009 season on Jan. 17 at the Virginia Collegiates and host a pair of prime time events including the ITA Pre-season and Southeastern Conference Championships.

“Our schedule sets us up to achieve some big things this spring,” Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. “Being able to host both the ITA and SEC Championships will hopefully prove advantageous to our chances in those two premier events.”



Sports Category : Golf (M)