Hogs Hold Off Bears; Open Season With Win
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 22nd ranked Arkansas Razorbacks took five of six singles matches en route to a 5-2, season-opening victory over Southwest Missouri State.
“We had to play good tennis,” said Coach Robert Cox, “You have to give SMS credit, they were a couple of sets away from taking the match.”
The Hogs fell behind early after losing the doubles point to the Bears. Arkansas’ pair of junior Matt Roberts and senior Imraan Ismail, ranked 27th in the country, was upset by the Bears’ Jiri Spousta and Pavel Hanek at No. 1, 8-6. Juniors Rohan Gajjar and Adrians Zguns defeated Jeff Stone and Nenad Curcic at No. 2, 8-6, but SMS clinched the point when Arkansas’ Talley Parker and Andrei Nicoara dropped their match to John Keelert and Marcos Quieroz.
Arkansas rebounded in singles, getting victories by their top three seeds. Zguns, No. 56 in the nation, fought off Spousta, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, at No. 1. Gajjar, ranked 77th, controlled his match at No. 2 with Hanek, winning 6-3, 7-5. Roberts, No. 121 in the country, cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Curcic.
Ismail won at No. 5, defeating Queiroz 7-6, 6-2. Freshman Jimmy Khougassin, making his Razorback debut, clinched the win for Arkansas at No. 6 with a 7-5, 7-6, win over Stone. Sophomore Matt Simpson was the only Hog to drop a match in singles, falling 6-4, 6-4 to Kellert at No. 4.
“I am proud of our guys for keeping a cool head and not panicking,” Cox said, “but more importantly, I’m glad we got out our first match jitters.
“This match showed the parity in college tennis. SMS is an unranked team, and we’re ranked in the top 25, and they gave us a great match. This is a good start for us.”
There was a doubleheader scheduled for Sunday, but the second match was mutually agreed by both schools to be played at a later date. Arkansas is not in action again until Feb. 5, when they travel to West Point, N.Y., to take on Army.
The Hogs’ next home match is slated for Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. The Razorbacks will take on the Oklahoma Sooners in a regional match at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center.
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