FAYETTEVILLE- The University of Arkansas women’s tennis team added to its recent post-season success by defeating Sacramento State 4-1 Saturday in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional first round at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center. The host Razorbacks, ranked 21st by the ITA, used strong singles play to turn away the No. 47 Hornets.
Arkansas faces No. 15 Clemson on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the regional final. UA, under head coach Michael Hegarty’s leadership for eight years, has now advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Championship in four consecutive seasons, and reached the Elite Eight in 2008 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2009.
"I knew if we didn’t play well, we could lose this match," Hegarty said. "We played really well in singles."
Arkansas won the first set in five matches and closed out all five wins in straight sets.
UA scored the first singles point with Claudine Paulson defeating Sacramento State’s Maria Meliuk, 6-2, 6-1, in the No. 3 singles match. Arkansas’ No. 1 singles player, Anouk Tigu (No. 33, ITA), followed suit with a 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 102-ranked Tatsiana Kapshai to give the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead.
"It was hard at the beginning, but we all got better," Tigu, a senior who participated in graduation ceremonies earlier in the day, said. "Even though we lost doubles, we got stronger. We won and that’s good, so it was a good day."
UA scored its third point with No. 5 Emily Carbone’s 6-1, 6-2 victory over the Hornets’ Sophie Lohscheidt. The Razorbacks sealed their advancement when Kate Lukomskaya knocked off Clarisse Baca, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 4.
"The match was really intense and hard," Lukomskaya said. "The score doesn’t look like it was, but it was. After doubles (and trailing 1-0), we were stressed and nervous, but doubles is just one point and we finished strong."
As Lukomskaya’s match-clinching point was in play, Jade Frampton’s final point was also in play and she recorded a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Mikica Zivanocvic at No. 6, but officially, her match does not count.
Arkansas and Sacramento State began the day in a tense fight for the initial doubles point. The Razorbacks’ No. 1 duo of Tigu and Paulson was unable to hold off Sacramento State’s No. 1 team of Kapshai and Rebeca Delgado, falling by a score of 9-7.
In earlier doubles action, the Hornets’ second team of Meliuk and Baca bested UA’s Lukomskaya and Stephanie Roy by a score of 8-3. The Razorbacks’ No. 3 team of Frampton and Valentina Starkova responded with a 9-7 victory over Sacramento State’s Lohscheidt and Zivanovic.
"I felt the doubles point could go either way," Hegarty said. "Doubles are short, so the better team doesn’t necessarily win. In college, singles will always determine the match. We were disappointed that we lost the point and we should have won, but we came through in singles. Our players really want to win this regional."
"Clemson is very good," Tigu said. "It’s another day. We’ll go out and see what happens, and hope we can use our home advantage."NCAA Women’s Tennis Fayetteville RegionalSaturday, May 14University of ArkansasGeorge M. Billingsley Tennis CenterNo. 21 Arkansas 5, No. 47 Sacramento State 1Doubles:Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1*No. 1 #87 Tatsiani Kapshai/Rebeca Delgado (Sac) def. #14 Anouk Tigu/Claudine Paulson (Ark.), 9-7No. 2 Maria Meliuk/Clarisse Baca (Sac) def. Kate Lukomskaya/Stephanie Roy (Ark.), 8-3No. 3 Jade Frampton/Valentina Starkova (Ark.) def. Sophie Lohscheidt/Milica Zivanovic (Sac), 9-7Singles:Order of Finish: 3, 1, 5, 4*No. 1 #33 Anouk Tigu (Ark.) def. #102 Tatsiana Kapshai (Sac), 6-0, 6-3No. 2 Rebeca Delgado (Sac) led Stephanie Roy (Ark.), 6-3, 2-4, dnfNo. 3 Claudine Paulson (Ark.) def. Maria Meliuk (Sac), 6-2, 6-1No. 4 Kate Lukomskaya (Ark.) def. Clarisse Baca (Sac) 6-4, 6-2No. 5 Emily Carbone (Ark.) def. Sophie Lohscheidt (Sac), 6-1, 6-2No. 6 Jade Frampton (Ark.) led Milica Zivanovic (Sac) 7-5, 5-1