FAYETTEVILLE-The University of Arkansas women’s tennis team should not look at the 2004 season as a time of gloomy defeats early tournament exits, but as a time well spent with promise of restoring the glory days to Lady Razorback tennis.
The 2004 season could be viewed many ways, depending on how the spectator views the glass. Half empty and you would see a Lady’Back team dwelling at the bottom Southeastern Conference. However, the view of a half full glass would show much more than that.
Under new head coach Michael Hegarty, the Lady’Backs cut the margin of loss in five SEC matches and shot off to their best season start since 1991. Consequently, injuries continued to play a role, plaguing the Lady Razorbacks and left them struggling to even fill the roster.
The Lady Razorbacks began the season with a seven home matches against Vanderbilt and six other teams from the surrounding area. Arkansas promptly knocked off all six regional teams, and made every point count despite a 5-2 loss to Vanderbilt on Valentine’s Day.
The cruising Lady’Backs went into the toughest part of their season 6-1, but couldn’t take advantage of their momentum as they fell winless in their next four attempts. All four losses came against SEC teams who all ranked in the top 35.
The Lady’Backs returned home to challenge a skilled Tulsa squad, but fell in their first non-conference match, 5-2. Arkansas returned to its winning ways the following in North Carolina with a 5-2 victory over the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
The win did not carry much weight, however, as the Lady Razorbacks were handed losses in the next six SEC opportunities. The Lady’Backs closed out the 2004 season with a loss in New Orleans against Tulane.
Going into the SEC tournament, no one saw the Lady Razorbacks as much threat to first round opponent LSU. However, Arkansas’ never-say-die attitude gave the Tigers a run for their money and gained waves of respect from all in attendance, which marks a new beginning for Arkansas tennis.