FAYETTEVILLE- The No. 52 Arkansas Razorbacks’ men tennis team bounced back strong on Sunday at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center in Fayetteville. The Hogs triumphed over No. 41 South Carolina, 4-2.
“We showed great effort today,” head coach Robert Cox said. “And with great effort comes good results. I am very proud of the team’s performance today and how well they persevered after dropping the doubles point.”
The Hogs were off to a slow start as South Carolina jumped ahead early taking the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 positions. Arkansas would have to win four singles matches to claim the win over South Carolina.
Arkansas returned to the courts for singles ready and determined for victory, but South Carolina continued to control the match as Ivan Machado defeated Nikolas Zogaj, 6-4, 6-1. With the win, the Gamecocks took the lead 2-0.
At the No. 3 position, senior Dmitry Lebedev earned the Hogs first singles victory defeating Alexander Konstonov in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
The turning point of the match came when sophomore Matt Walters produced a stunning return at 3-1 down to even the score at five-all in the first set against Ivan Cressoni. Walters’ continued to fight and eventually took the first set, 7-6(4). His energy was contagious, with the crowd on their feet Arkansas was able to reverse the momentum of the match.For the first time the Hogs gained control and took the lead on every court. Walters cruised through the second set and the match to win over Cressoni, 7-6(4), 6-2.
With the match score tied at two-all, freshman Gregoire Lehmann struggled to close out the win over Johannes Pulsfort at the No. 5 position. Lehmann took the first set with no hesitation and was up 5-1 in the second set, but Pulsfort was able to even the score at five-all. Lehmann got the crucial break point and was able to get the 6-4, 7-5 win. Lehmann’s victory gave Arkansas a 3-2 lead and left the top to courts remaining to make the final decision of the match.
At the No. 2 position, junior Matt Hogan and Pedros Campos split sets and continued to battle in exchange for the advantage in the third set.
No. 57 junior Chris Nott and No. 65 Diego Cubas both played hard at the No. 1 position but Nott’s hard groundstrokes and solid serve led the Hogs to victory over the Gamecocks. Nott pulled through in a close match of 6-4, 7-6(4).
“It is so tough to win four singles matches in our conference “ Cox said. ““We showed a lot of heart and beat a good South Carolina team.”
Arkansas will travel next weekend to face Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Hog’s are scheduled to play Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. at 2 p.m. on March 12 before heading to Starkville, Miss. for a 10 a.m. match up against Mississippi State on Sunday.
Arkansas 4 South Carolina 2
Singles: Order of finish: 4,3,6,5,1*
No. 57 Chris Nott (UA) def. No. 65 Diego Cubas (USC) 6-4, 7-6(4)
Matt Hogan (UA)vs. Pedros Campos (USC) 4-6,6-3, 0-3 (unf.)
Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. Alexander Kostonov (USC) 6-4, 6-3
Ivan Machado (USC) def. Nikolas Zogaj (UA) 6-4, 6-1
Gregoire Lehmann (UA) def. Johannes Pulsfort (USC) 6-4, 7-5
Matt Walters (UA) def. Ivan Cressoni (USC) 7-6(4), 6-2
Order of finish: 3, 1*,2
Cubas/Campos (USC) def. No. 26 Nott/Lebedev (UA) 8-4
Machado/Pulsfort (USC) def. Hogan/Walters (UA) 8-6
Cressoni/Kostonov (USC) def. Taylor King/Bradwin Williams (UA) 8-5