FAYETTEVILLE – Eight home dates in the first 10 matches plus non-conference events against major regional rivals highlight the 2007 University of Arkansas women’s tennis schedule, head coach Michael Hegarty announced this week.
Arkansas made its return to the NCAA Tournament last season and finished as the runner-up in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. The Lady’Backs return many of the key players from the 10-11 team of 2006.
“This is a challenging non-conference schedule that will prepare us for the SEC,” Hegarty said. “Opening with a top 30 opponent from the ACC is a fabulous start to a great schedule.”
Arkansas begins the year with North Carolina State on Jan. 27, then hosts the first of several ITA regional rivals with Tulsa on Jan. 28. Arkansas also welcomes St. Louis, Oklahoma and Brigham Young to campus during the month of February.
The Lady’Backs host another double-header match this year, playing Sam Houston State at 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, then facing the Billikens of St. Louis at 4 p.m.
“We were successful last year with this format, and it gives fans a full day of tennis,” Hegarty said. “We hope we get a lot of folks out to the tennis center to watch.”
Conference play begins on March 2 as the Lady’Backs host powerhouse Georgia. As with last year’s schedule, Arkansas faces the entire Eastern Division before starting Western Division play on March 30 at Miss State.
“The SEC is as strong as ever, and we expect to qualify 10 or 11 teams for the postseason,” Hegarty said. “We made a strong run last season, and we’re looking to be one of those teams in the postseason again.”
Arkansas’ home SEC West opener is Ole Miss on April 1. After a swing through the state of Alabama the next weekend, the Lady’Backs close with LSU, the team that edged Arkansas for the west title last season.
All home events are played at the Arkansas Varsity Courts or the Dills Indoor Tennis Center, with the decision for indoor or outdoor play dependent on weather conditions. Admission is free.