FAYETTEVILLE — The Razorback women’s tennis team takes on No. 50 Auburn and No. 71 Alabama this weekend in their final two home matches of the season at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center. The match against Auburn will be an important one for the Hogs as it is a battle for sole possession of second place in the SEC Western Division. Both teams have a 2-4 conference record coming into Friday’s match.
Arkansas (12-7, 2-4) is coming off a tough weekend against ranked opponents Georgia and Tennessee, who were both in the top 15. In that first match against Georgia, which was a home match, Arkansas fell behind early after losing the doubles point and couldn’t recover in singles, en route to a 5-2 loss. However, freshman Kelsey Sundaram was able to win her thirteenth singles match of the spring after a straight set victory over Georgia’s Naoko Ueshima, 6-1, 6-3.
In the second match, the Razorbacks traveled to Knoxville and had a much better outing against the Volunteers, especially in singles. Arkansas still lost the doubles point to start the match, but battled back in singles to take a 3-2 team lead. Unfortunately, the Hogs couldn’t win the final two matches, giving Tennessee the 4-3 victory. Sophomore Kate Lukomskaya was one of those point winners for the Hogs as she defeated No. 58 Maria Sorbello, vaulting her into the first singles ranking of her career at No. 115.
“We had a really tough weekend in those two matches,” said head coach Michael Hegarty. “We feel really good about how we competed in those matches and that we certainly got better.”
This weekend’s first match begins with Arkansas facing-off against the Auburn Tigers, who come in ranked No. 50 in ITA. The Razorbacks hold a 13-12 record in the all-time series against the Tigers, including last year in Auburn, Ala., where the Hogs picked up a 6-1 victory.
Auburn (8-6, 2-4) is coming off a weekend split, after defeating Kentucky 5-2 and being shut out by No. 29 Vanderbilt, 7-0. The doubles tandem of Paulina Schippers and Plamena Kurteva lead the team in doubles play with a 10-3 record, while Fani Chifchieva is Auburn’s top singles player, ranked No. 54 in the latest ITA singles rankings.
In the second match of the weekend, the Hogs will take on No. 71 Alabama. Arkansas holds a 12-12 record against the Crimson Tide in the all-time series with their last victory coming in the 2007-2008 season.
The Tide (8-8, 1-5) are coming off a weekend split as well, losing at home to Vanderbilt, 4-3, and picking up the victory on the road against Kentucky, 4-3.
“Both teams are very competitive,” said Hegarty. “We’re going to have to bring our best to the table if we want to keep on developing.”
Arkansas still holds a stellar home record this season at 10-2 and could use two wins this weekend going into the final stretch of SEC play. Leading the way for the Hogs is junior Anouk Tigu, who comes in ranked No. 55 in ITA and holds a 9-7 record in singles this season, with the majority of her matches being played against some of the top players in the country. In doubles, the team of Lukomskaya and Sundaram lead the charge as they hold a 12-6 record this spring, good for tops on the team.
Both matches this weekend are slated to begin at noon at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center. For complete results of the matches as they occur as well as full coverage of the women’s tennis team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com