NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Arkansas tennis team heads into Thursday’s first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament against Auburn with a 14-8 record and a No. 26 national ranking.
The Razorbacks meet the Tigers at 9:45 a.m. in the second match of the day, following the LSU-Alabama matchup. Other first round matches are Tennessee and Mississippi State at 11:30 a.m. and host Vanderbilt and South Carolina at 1:15 p.m.
The Arkansas-Auburn winner meets No. 5 Ole Miss Friday at 9:45 a.m.
Earlier this year, the Razorbacks won at Auburn, 5-2, on April 4. In that match, Arkansas won five of six singles matches, but four of those wins came in three sets. Nathan Price beat Gabor Zoltan Pelva at No. 1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2; Adrians Zguns topped Alex Schweizer at No. 2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6; Matt Simpson downed Nick Lane at No. 4, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2; and Imraan Ismail got by Brett Hunter at No. 6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.
Zguns and Price have led the Hogs all season. Zguns, ranked No. 16 in the country, is 33-8 overall, including a 10-1 mark at No. 2 singles. He has won his last six matches. Price, ranked No. 38 in the nation, is 30-11 with a 9-4 record at the No. 1 spot. Zguns and Price are the first Razorbacks to win 30 matches in a season since All-American Marcus Hilpert went 47-4 in 1994.
Price was named the SEC’s Tennis Player of the Week after going 2-0 last week with a win over then-seventh-ranked Hamid Mirzadeh of Florida, 6-4, 7-5.
“What a way to go out, defeating the No. 7 player in the country,” head coach Robert Cox says. “Nathan has been a great influence on the team and his work ethic is unmatched. He has really contributed to the team’s success.”
Cox’s lineup also includes sophomore Rohan Gajjar, who has won four straight to improve to 17-13; Ismail, a junior who is 18-14; Matt Roberts, a sophomore who is 14-16 with five of his loses in three-set matches; and Simpson, a freshman (9-13) who missed Friday’s 5-2 win over No. 40 South Carolina with an injury.
“We face a red hot Auburn team that just defeated Tennessee and Georgia this weekend,” Cox says. “Although we lost a 4-3 decision (to Florida on Sunday), I feel we are competing at a high level.”
Auburn (10-10) is ranked No. 27 after recording those two victories. The Tigers, who have won three straight following three straight losses, are led by Lane (12-5), No. 22 Pelva (13-7) and No. 124 Robbert Lathouwers (11-9).