SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The No. 23 Razorback women’s tennis team pulled the huge upset of No. 4 Notre Dame on Sunday with a 4-3 victory and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which will be played on Feb. 17-20 in Charlottesville, Va. The win keeps the Razorbacks undefeated on the year at 4-0 and drops Notre Dame to 2-1 for the season. This win is Arkansas’ first against a top five team since 2008 when the Hogs defeated No. 2 Georgia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“First of all Notre Dame hosted a first class regional and I thought the level of play was great from all four teams here,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty. “A lot of things went right for us these past two days and certainly our strong doubles play was the catalyst to our success. We also have a squad with a great attitude and exceptional depth. Both were key today because Notre Dame has a fantastic team.”
After having a close match with Utah the day before, the Hogs had a very tall order in facing the Irish on Sunday on the Notre Dame home court. However, once again, the team of sophomore Claudine Paulson and senior Anouk Tigu got Arkansas on the doubles board first after beating Kristy Frilling and Shannon Matthews, 8-2, good for their second straight win at the No. 1 spot. The team would finish out doubles on court three after freshman Jade Frampton and sophomore Valentina Starkova pulled out a tough tiebreaker win against Kristen Rafael and Julie Sabacinski, 8-7(7-4). That win would give Arkansas once again the 1-0 lead going into singles. In all four matches this season, the Hogs have won the doubles point.
In singles, Notre Dame would actually be the first to strike on court two as the 104th-ranked Matthews defeated junior Kate Lukomskaya in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0. It would become a back and forth battle as Paulson would continue her great start to the season winning her sixth match of the spring against No. 79 Rafael, also in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
Arkansas would have the 2-1 advantage with four matches remaining, but Notre Dame would tie it up at court one and then take a 3-2 lead with Sabacinski’s win over Starkova, 6-4, 6-1. It would come down to the final two matches at courts four and five with the Hogs needing to win both to get the upset victory.
With all matches going final in straight sets, junior Emily Carbone would keep that trend going with her gutsy 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 78 Chrissie McGaffigan, setting the stage at court five. Junior Stephanie Roy and No. 106 Jennifer Kellner were locked in the only three-setter of the match. Kellner would take the first set 6-2, but Roy would respond in the biggest way and nearly go perfect in the final two sets winning, 6-1, 6-0, for her fourth straight win.
This win by the women’s tennis team is only their third win over a top five team in the last 13 years and second under head coach Michael Hegarty. The win sends them to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships to be played at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. This is Arkansas’ first 4-0 start since the 2007-2008 year when the team under Hegarty went 4-0 as well.
The team will look to continue their great start next week when they travel to Edmond, Okla. to take on Oklahoma State on Friday, Feb. 4 and then to Norman to face Oklahoma on Sunday, Feb. 6. For all information regarding the Razorback women’s tennis team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. ITA Kickoff Results Day TwoNo. 23 Arkansas 4No. 4 Notre Dame 3Complete Doubles ResultsNo. 1 Claudine Paulson/Anouk Tigu (ARK) def. Kristy Frilling/Shannon Matthews (ND) 8-2No. 2 Jennifer Kellner/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Kate Lukomskaya/Stephanie Roy (ARK) 6-5, unf.No. 3 Jade Frampton/Valentina Starkova (ARK) def. Kristen Rafael/Julie Sabacinski (ND) 8-7(4)Complete Singles Results No. 1 #9 Kristy Frilling (ND) def. #26 Anouk Tigu (ARK) 6-3, 6-1No. 2 #104 Shannon Matthews (ND) def. Kate Lukomskaya (ARK) 6-1, 6-0No. 3 Claudine Paulson (ARK) def. #79 Kristen Rafael (ND) 6-3, 6-0No. 4 Emily Carbone (ARK) def. #78 Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) 6-2, 6-4 No. 5 Stephanie Roy (ARK) def. #106 Jennifer Kellner (ND) 2-6, 6-1, 6-0No. 6 Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Valentina Starkova (ARK) 6-4, 6-1