OXFORD, Miss. — The No. 54 Arkansas Razorbacks men’s tennis team returned to the court Sunday morning to face the No. 52 Columbia Lions in the consolation round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Oxford, Miss. The Hogs started strong and proved they were a force to be reckoned with taking over the game and never handing it back. The Hogs defeated the Lions, 4-1.
“As a coach I have never opened a season with this level of difficulty with four tough matches,“ head coach Robert Cox said. “It was a hard loss against Ole Miss but I am very pleased with the way the team bounced back. We continue to improve and look more confidence in every match and it showed today.”
In singles play, No. 81 Christopher Nott pulled away with a 4-2 lead over Jonathon Wong. Wong retired to give Arkansas a 2-0 lead. A crucial turning point in the match was the face off between senior Dmitry Lebedev and Haig Scheiderman of Columbia on court three. Lebedev dropped in the opening set but the fire lit up within and he rallied back to win the match, 7-5, 7-5. Lebedev’s win gave the Razorbacks a firm 3-0 lead over the Lions.
“I am very proud of Dmitry’s effort today,” Cox said. “He really stepped up, played great tennis and defeated a tough competitor.”
On court two, Hogan and Mihal Nichifor went into a dueling third set. Hogan fought to nearly capture the win but eventually fell to Nichifor, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. Freshman Gregoire Lehmann dominated the first set 6-0 over Cyril Bucher, but Bucher battled back to tie the match at a set apiece. Lehmann had the game at his hands and closed the match with a 6-0, 3-6, 2-6 victory over Bucher. Arkansas secured the win taking three of the four singles events.
“We played very well today against a good team,” Cox said. “Doubles continues to be a strength thus far, but we are starting to show some consistency in singles.”
In doubles action, the tandem of junior Matthew Hogan and Matt Walters picked up the Hogs first win of the day. The duo defeated Nichifor and Schneiderman with no hesitation, 8-3. The doubles team of Lebedev and Nott clinched the doubles point with an 8-1 victory over Columbia’s Deb Sen and Kebin Kung. Arkansas has earned three of the four doubles points this season, including wins over No. 26 ranked Washington and No. 10 Ole Miss.
The Hogs will return home for more tennis action against Louisiana-Lafayette at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. The Hogs will turn around to host Wichita State and Cowley Community in Fayetteville on Sunday. First serve against the Shockers is set for 1 p.m. and play will kick off against the Tigers at 5 p.m.
Arkansas 4 Columbia 1
Order of finish: 1,3, 2, 4*
No. 81 Christopher Nott (UA) def. Jonathon Wong (CU) 4-2(ret.)
Mihal Nichifor (CU) def. def. Matthew Hogan (UA) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2
Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. Haig Scheiderman (CU) 7-5, 7-5
Gregoire Lehmann (UA) def. Cyril Bucher 6-0, 3-6, 6-2
Rajeev Deb Sen (CU) vs. Nikolas Zogaj (UA) 3-1
Matt Walters (UA) vs. Kevin Kung (CU) 5-1
Order of Finish: 1,2*
Nott/Lebedev (UA) def. Deb Sen/Kung (CU) 8-1
Hogan/Walters (UA) def. Nichifor/Schneiderman (CU) 8-3
Taylor King/ Bradwin Williams (UA) vs. Sho Mattsumoto/Cyril Bucher (CU) 6-6