TULSA, Okla. – University of Arkansas junior Mayori Franco upset fourth-seeded Iryna Tkachenko of Oklahoma State to advance to the singles final of the ITA Central Regionals hosted by Tulsa University.
Franco’s win marks the second straight year for the Lady Razorbacks to reach the regional final, and Arkansas almost pulled off a sweep of the finals.
The queen of the Central Region, top-seeded Ela Kaluder of Arkansas, was upset in her semifinal match, breaking a 21-match winning streak at the event. However, her teammate Franco is poised to assume her title at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
“We’re looking for a singles-doubles sweep for the second year in a row,” UA head coach Michael Hegarty said. “With any luck, we might still see the all-Arkansas final.”
While Kaluder’s run in singles ended early, she and teammate Audrey Bordeleau defeated the UALR team of Jarvinen and Robinson, 8-2, to advance to the doubles semifinals. Their Lady’Back teammates Nanar Airapetian and Franco also won their quarterfinal match against Kansas State’s Kudlackora and Yrureta, 8-4.
The Arkansas doubles teams open Sunday morning’s action at 9 a.m. Kaluder and Bordeleau face Kansas’ Adveeva and Horvata, while Airpetian and Franco play the second-seeded Nebraska team of Imke Reimers and Ring.
Franco’s singles title match with singles’ third-seed Reimers of Nebraska takes place next with the doubles finals to follow.
Last year, Kaluder ran the table at the ITA Central Regional in Salt Lake City, but her attempt to repeat the title in Tulsa was stopped by Reimers’ in a 6-4, 7-6, nailbitter.
Franco rallied in her three-set match with Tkachenko, taking the first with ease 6-2 before the Cowgirls’ top gun battled through a tiebreaker second, 7-6, to force the deciding third. Franco regained her form and close out the match with a 6-2 result.
“Both of the singles matches were played with the highest quality and at the highest level,” Hegarty said. “The intensity level was fantastic, and it was great tennis for all four players involved.”
In consolation play, Bordeleau won for a second time over Tulsa’s Marta Marcinkowska, defeating the Golden Hurricanem 6-4, 6-3.