CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The 19th-ranked Razorback women’s tennis team will begin their run at the ITA National Indoors Championship tomorrow when they take on the top-ranked Stanford Cardinal at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville at 6:30 p.m. CST. The Hogs are riding a hot start to the season as they have compiled a 7-1 record with all seven wins coming against ranked teams, including then No. 4 Notre Dame.
“We’re obviously looking forward to the challenge of playing Stanford,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty. “They are noticeably deep and we’ve seen most of their players, so we will have an excellent game plan going forward. We’re looking to get better every day and make progression from indoors to when we get to outdoors.”
The Razorbacks have continued to progress each and every week leading up to this big tournament and that progress included a couple of wins over a 37th-ranked Tulsa team and No. 69 Texas Tech last weekend. Both matches were won by a score of 4-3 and the Hogs were able to rally in singles for four straight matches after losing the doubles point. The team has struggled as of late with doubles, losing the important first point in their last three matches after winning it in their first five.
Individually, the Hogs are led by senior Anouk Tigu, who was just recently ranked No. 16 in the nation by the newest ITA singles polls. The Holland native has quietly generated a 6-1 singles record this dual season, all at the number one position. Those six wins moved her up ten spots in the new rankings after starting at No. 26.
After Tigu, junior Emily Carbone is second on the team in total wins (14) with six coming in dual match play. Carbone was actually a perfect 5-0 to start the dual season before dropping her first match last weekend at the No. 3 spot. Sophomore Claudine Paulson rounds out the top three in wins with 13 overall and six in duals. Three weeks ago, Paulson won the SEC Player of the Week after starting the season with five straight victories and being a key component in the Razorbacks upset over Notre Dame.
From top to bottom, the Razorbacks have shown their amount of depth, getting not only great performances from their top players, but also from their players at the lower positions. Most notably, freshman Jade Frampton comes into this weekend as the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week. Against Tulsa and Texas Tech, Frampton won both of her singles matches in straight sets for only her second and third wins of the dual-match season. However, her wins were of most importance as she had to come in and play at courts five and six when Tigu went out with an arm injury.
For the visitors from the west, Stanford comes into the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record as has held the No. 1 spot all season. The reigning NCAA champs have been coasting along recently with wins over No. 28 SMU and an impressive 5-2 victory over No. 4 UCLA earlier this month. To get to this weekend, the Cardinal also scored wins over No. 65 Cal Poly and No. 39 Oklahoma during last month’s ITA Kickoff.
Individually, Stanford is led by Hilary Barte, who is ranked 2nd in the nation in singles. Also, freshman Kristie Ahn (17-3 record, 4-0 in duals, No. 20 national ranking) and Nicole Gibbs (17-4 record, 5-0 in duals, No. 21 national ranking) are tied for the team lead in victories and have alternated at the Nos. 2 and 3 spots.
Tomorrow’s match is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. CST at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. Live stats will be available as well as the live blog. For all information and updates throughout the weekend as well as for the rest of the season, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.