Following a nearly two-week layoff, the No. 39 University of Arkansas women’s tennis returns to the courts Sunday afternoon for a doubleheader against Jackson State beginning at 1 p.m. Play will be held from the Billingsley Tennis Center and admission is free. The Razorbacks’ 7-2 record is the best start through nine matches to open the season since 2011 when Arkansas also got out of the gate with a 7-2 mark.
“We have had our best practice quality of the season this past week and we are anxious to get out there and compete hard this Sunday,” 12th-year head coach Michael Hegarty said.
A drawing will be held between the first and second match for tickets to the Arkansas vs. South Carolina women’s basketball game on Feb. 19.
LAST POINT PLAYED
Arkansas was last in action Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, finishing that weekend with a 2-1 mark. The Razorbacks defeated Old Dominion, 4-3, and Oral Roberts, 4-0, on Jan. 30 and lost to No. 16 Oklahoma State on the road Feb. 1,
NOTES FROM JAN. 30 – FEB. 1
– Following the doubleheader sweep of Old Dominion and Oral Roberts on Jan. 30, Arkansas pushed its winning streak to seven matches, its longest winning streak since rallying off 10 in a row from Jan. 29 – Feb. 15, 2005
– Arkansas rallied from a 3-1 deficit for the second time this season (Oklahoma) to defeat Old Dominion, 4-3
– Sophomore Shannon Hudson split her singles matches against ranked opponents, defeating No. 68 Botusharova of Old Dominion and falling to No. 10 Lushkova of Oklahoma State. Hudson is 2-2 in her career against ranked singles opponents.
– Arkansas is 4-0 when winning the doubles point and 2-2 when losing it this season.
IN THE POLLS
In the Feb. 10 ITA poll, the Razorbacks checked in at No. 39. Arkansas has been ranked in 118 consecutive weekly ITA polls dating back to 2008.
TAKE ON THE TIGERS
Jackson State is 0-4 this season, having been swept by Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU and UAB to open the season. Arkansas owns a 2-0 record against Jackson State. Both wins came during a doubleheader on March 20, 2013. Behind head coach Scott Pennington, the Tigers advanced to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, falling in the first round to Alabama.
STRENGTH IN THE MIDDLE
While the Razorbacks have posted a collective 31-13 singles record in dual play, the middle of the lineup has shown to be especially strong. Arkansas is a combined 15-1 on courts three and four, including a perfect 7-0 on court four. Junior Makenzie Craft has led the charge on court three tallying a 4-0 record while junior Yuliya Lysa spearheads court four’s success as she is 5-0 in that spot.
The Razorbacks opened the season with eight straight matches at the Billingsley Tennis Center and 10 of their first 11 are at home. Overall the Razorbacks will have a total of 17 home matches on 12 home dates. Under Coach Hegarty, the Razorbacks have defended their home alleys tough, with a record of 92-51 (.638) at home since the 2003-04 season.
TOUGH SLATE AHEAD
Coach Hegarty has certainly lined up a challenging schedule for his talented group of Razorbacks this season. Arkansas will face a total of 18 ranked opponents, including six of those coming in the non-conference. In fact, among SEC teams, the Razorbacks will face the second-most non-conference ranked opponents, trailing only Vanderbilt who has seven non-con ranked foes on its schedule.
HUDSON YEAR TWO
After a dynamic freshman season in which she lead the team in dual wins with 13, sophomore Shannon Hudson is back for more. The Virginia Beach, Va., native and fourth-generation Razorback competed primarily on court two in singles last season and has been near the top of the lineup again this spring. Hudson is second on the team in dual wins, posting a 5-1 record including an unbeaten 4-0 when playing on court two.
With junior Yuliya Lysa enrolling at Arkansas this spring semester, she joins sophomore Oleksandra Shkorupeieva as the second Ukrainian on the roster. Shkorupeieva was also a spring semester enrollee last season as she joined the team in January 2014. Both Lysa and Shkorupeieva have begun their 2015 season on high notes as the two are tied for the most singles wins on the team. Shkorupeieva boasts a 6-2 singles mark while Lysa slightly betters that with a 6-1 mark.
Following her freshman year, where she was second on the team in dual wins with 12, sophomore Oleksandra “Sasha” Shkorupeieva is continuing her solid play. During the 2014 fall schedule, Shkorupeieva racked up a 12-2 record, the most wins on the team. Her spring season has picked up where her fall season left off, as she is tied for the team lead in singles wins, posting an impressive 6-2 record.
After transferring in this season from Baylor, junior Makenzie Craft has certainly made quite the splash in her first few months as a Razorback. Craft has brought a championship pedigree with her to Fayetteville as she helped Georgia win the SEC Championship in 2012-13 and Baylor win the Big 12 Championship in 2013-14. She continued her winning ways with Arkansas during the fall 2014 schedule. Craft produced an 8-7 overall singles mark, including a run to the round of 16 at the ITA Central Regional Championship and a runner-up finish in her flight at the Oklahoma Sooner Invite. Expected to be a key contributor to the lineup this spring, Craft owns a 4-2 singles mark thus far, including winning her match on court three against No. 24 Oklahoma to complete the Razorbacks’ furious team comeback.
Fresh faces are abound in the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center this season. A total of eight newcomers come aboard for the Razorbacks this season. Here’s a breakdown of the newcomers. Junior Makenzie Craft (Frisco, Texas) transferred in after spending her freshman season with Georgia and her sophomore season with Baylor. Craft certainly brings with her a championship pedigree as she was a part of Georgia’s 2013 SEC Championship team and Baylor’s 2014 Big 12 Championship team. She compiled a 27-22 overall singles record during her first two collegiate years. Junior Nicole Breaux (Lafayette, La.) comes to Fayetteville after transferring from Louisiana-Lafayette. Breaux competed at the top of the singles and doubles lineup for the Ragin’ Cajuns, amassing a 28-34 singles record over two seasons. Junior Yuliya Lysa is in her first season and comes to Arkansas by way of Khmelnytsky, Ukraine. Sophomore Nastassia Rubel (Minsk, Belarus) is in her first season with the Razorbacks, bringing with her a world ranking of No. 188 on the ITF junior tour. Sophomore Elly Fryberger (Littleton, Colo.) is in her first season after transferring from Kansas. Freshmen Mia Jurasic (Ogulin, Croatia) and Peyton Jennings (Tulsa, Okla.) will both be competing in their first collegiate matches. Jurasic is the Croatian 16 and under national champion while Jennings claimed back-to-back Oklahoma state titles at No. 1 singles her junior and senior year.
The eighth newcomer is assistant coach Luc Godin. Godin joins Hegarty’s staff and the Razorbacks after previously serving as the men’s and women’s assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2013-14. He is familiar with the SEC, however, as he was an assistant for the Auburn women’s team from 2011-13.
ARAUJO NAMED RED TIE HONOREE
Junior Flavia Araujo was named a 2014-15 Red Tie Honoree for the Spirit of the Razorback Award, as announced by the University of Arkansas Athletic Department and the Razorback Foundation on Dec. 31. Each year, the Razorbacks recognize student-athletes whose performance throughout his or her career serves to lift up their sport to new heights and whose character exemplifies the goals of the athletic department. The 18th annual Red Tie Dinner will be held Feb. 21, 2015, in Rogers, Ark. A steady contributor on the court, Araujo was also named the 2013-14 Lee Spencer Individual champion for her community service endeavors and overall commitment to the university.
Arkansas women’s tennis all-time winningest coach with a record of 154-131 (.540), Michael Hegarty (Auburn, ’94) is in his 12th season as head coach of the Razorbacks. He has led the Hogs to seven NCAA Tournament appearances in his first 11 years.
The Razorbacks finished the 2013-14 season with a 13-16 overall mark, including 2-11 in SEC play. Arkansas finished the season ranked No. 59 in the final ITA poll.
Arkansas brings back three players from last year’s squad. Returning are junior Flavia Araujo and sophomores Shannon Hudson and Oleksandra Shkorupeieva.
AT A GLANCE: 2014 FALL
The Razorbacks competed in six team tournaments throughout the fall schedule. Sophomore Oleksandra Shkorupeieva led the team in wins, posting a 12-2 record. Additionally, she won her flight championship at the Oklahoma Sooner Invitational and also won three straight matches at the ITA Central Regional Championships, advancing out of the qualifying bracket and into the main draw’s Round of 32. Sophomore Shannon Hudson was selected to compete in the singles qualifying draw at the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships and finished the fall with an 8-6 singles record. Junior Makenzie Craft posted an 8-7 fall singles record and advanced all the way to the Round of 16 at the ITA Central Regional.
The ITA Shortened Format:
• No-ad scoring in singles and doubles.
• Three doubles matches played, each match one set to 6, with a tie-break at 6-all.
• Followed (after a brief intermission; time TBD) by six singles matches, each match 2 out of 3 sets, with tie-breaks at 6-all.
• No warm-up with opponents (in doubles and in singles)
For more information on Arkansas women’s tennis, follow @RazorbackWTEN on Twitter.