FAYETTEVILLE — Riding a two match winning streak into the home stretch of the conference season, the No. 23 Razorback women’s tennis team will hit the road this weekend for two of their final three matches against No. 31 Vanderbilt and an unranked Kentucky squad.
The Razorbacks (14-7, 4-4), who took sole control of second place in the SEC West last weekend after defeating then No. 50 Auburn, are riding a lot of momentum from their entire lineup and look to continue their stellar play into this weekend’s matches.
“We had two really good performances over the weekend, said head coach Michael Hegarty. “We expected high quality matches from both teams and it was exactly what we thought. We continued to make progress, which is something we’ve been trying to do for a few weeks now during SEC play and both matches were two solid victories.”
In last weekend’s matches, the Hogs got 6-1 victories over Auburn and Alabama. Sophomore Kate Lukomskaya, who is ranked No. 115 in singles, clinched the Auburn victory with a win at No. 2 while No. 65 Anouk Tigu knocked off No. 54 Fani Chifchieva at the number one spot. Against Alabama, Emily Carbone clinched the team victory at court three with Tigu earning another ranked win, this time over No. 47 Alexa Guarachi. Both victories now give Tigu 11 total on the spring season.
The weekend’s first match takes Arkansas to Nashville, Tenn. to take on the 31st ranked Commodores. The Hogs trail Vandy in the all-time series with a 5-17 record, but did get the win in their most previous meeting last season, a tough 4-3 win in Fayetteville.
Vanderbilt (9-8, 4-4) comes into the match with the Razorbacks after a tough weekend, going 0-2 in a weekend doubleheader against Florida and South Carolina by final scores of 6-1 and 5-2 respectively. The Commodores are led in singles by senior Hannah Blatt, who suffered her first SEC loss of the season on Sunday against South Carolina, but still remains 6-1 in conference play.
In the second match of the weekend, Arkansas will travel to Lexington, Ky. to take on a Wildcat squad that is preparing for its final home weekend slate of the 2009-2010 season. Kentucky (2-16, 0-8) will face LSU on Friday before their match with the Razorbacks on Sunday. In the all-time series with Kentucky, the Hogs hold a losing record of 5-15, but got their most recent victory last season as well, a 5-2 victory.
The Wildcats are led by their top doubles pair of Caroline Lilley and Minnette Pienaar, who have claimed three of their last four matches. In singles, UK’s sole senior, Christine Johnson has racked up a 10-7 record this season including winning her last four of five.
“There is a lot of road tennis coming up,” said Hegarty, “but that’s good for us because in the postseason, if you don’t get to host in the NCAA Tournament, you’re going to be trying to be successful on the road. I think we’re on the bubble right now to host, but if we don’t get to, then playing on the road is going to be very important for us and a good opportunity for us.”
Friday’s match against Vanderbilt is set to start at 2:30 p.m. at the Currey Tennis Center, while Sunday’s match with Kentucky is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex. Complete coverage of both matches as well as complete results will be posted online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.