LEXINGTON, Ky. – A strong showing by Aurelija Miseviciute and a pair of singles court comebacks were stopped short as the Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks, 4-1, in the opening round of the 2007 Southeastern Conference Women’s Tennis Championships.
Arkansas, 11-11, got off to a slow start in many ways as the day was delayed due to weather in the Lexington area. Once the match got underway on the Boone Tennis Complex’s Seaton Courts, the Lady’Backs stumbled on the first and third courts in doubles to give Auburn a 1-0 early advantage.
“It looked like a regional final, we played about our best and came up just a little short,” Hegarty said. “We competed hard in such a big match. That’s a big thing for our future.”
With the loss, Arkansas now awaits the NCAA women’s tennis team and individual selections on May 1.
“We’re on the bubble, but we’ve got two very important win, and today would have been that one more that would have put us off the bubble and in as a team,” Hegarty said. “We’ll be watching the selection show and preparing 100% as if we were in. Watching today’s match, we deserve to be in.”
Miseviciute took control on the second court with a quick 6-3, 7-5, win over Alex Haney, but other Lady’Backs got slow starts.
The Tigers held a 2-1 advantage even after Miseviciute’s win thanks to court six as Kelly Adams downed Arkansas’ Rachel Wilhelm, 6-2, 6-1.
Auburn reached matchpoint thanks to Melissa Konnig’s win on court three over Maryori Franco. Franco battled hard in the first match, but was unable to break Konnig a single time in the second for the 7-5, 6-0, loss.
All eyes turned to the first court where Arkansas’ first-team all-SEC player Ela Kaluder battled Auburn’s Fani Chifchieva into a second-set tiebreaker. Falling in the first 7-5, Kaluder roared out to a quick 5-2 lead in the second. Chifchieva came back and forced the breaker, but Kaluder could not force the third set, losing 7-6 (2).
The loss was only Kaluder’s seventh on the year, but all seven have been at the hands of SEC opponents.
Had Kaluder managed to get to the third, Arkansas was virtually assured of a second singles win on the fourth court as Nanar Airapetian put a rough start behind her allowing Whitney Chappell to stay close in the first set, 7-6, and had total control in the second, leading 5-0 when play was ended.
The loss at No. 1 also stopped another potential win on the fifth court. Audrey Bordeleau captured a tiebreaker first set from Jil Hastenrath, and was winning the second when her match was stopped at 7-6, 4-3.
“We were minutes away from two more victories,” Hegarty said. “I was so proud of the way we battled as a team, and we were right there.”
The doubles results saw Franco and Airapetian fall 8-3 to Haney and Koning on the first court while Wilhelm and Bordeleau lost to Hastenrath and Adams. The two doubles wins for Auburn stopped the second court where Miseviciute and Kaluder were tied at 7-7 with Chifchieva and Chappell.
2007 SEC Women’s Tennis Championship
Boone Tennis Complex, Seaton Courts
Auburn 4, Arkansas 1
1. Fani Chifchieva (AU) def. Ela Kaluder, 7-5, 7-6 (2)
2. Aurelija Miseviciute (UA) def. Alex Haney, 6-3, 7-5
3. Melissa Koning (AU) def. Maryori Franco, 7-5, 6-0
4. Nanar Airapetian (UA) leading Whitney Chappell, 7-6 (2), 5-0 susp.
5. Audrey Bordeleau (UA) leading Jil Hastenrath, 7-6 (3), 4-3 susp.
6. Kelly Adams (AU) def. Rachel Wilhelm, 6-2, 6-1
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 3, 1 (4-5 susp.)
1. Haney/Koning (AU) def. Franco/Airapetian, 8-3
2. Chifchieva/Chapell and Miseviciute/Kaluder, 7-7 susp.
3. Hastenrath/Adams (AU) def. Wilhelm/Bordeleau, 8-6
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2 susp.