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Razorback Netters Eliminated at SEC Tournament

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorback Netters Eliminated at SEC Tournament
ATHENS, Ga. – Arkansas was eliminated from the 2005 Southeastern Conference Tennis Tournament Thursday, falling 4-0 to Mississippi State. The loss likely ends the Razorbacks’ season with a 4-17 record, 2-9 in the SEC.

“This was such a tough, frustrating year,” Razorback Coach Robert Cox said, “I’m so proud of our guys for never giving up and for always preparing themselves to win. These guys represented Arkansas very well. I was so impressed with their perseverance in the face of adversity.”

The Razorbacks fell behind 1-0 after losing the doubles point. The Hogs had swept the doubles competition in their previous two meetings with the Bulldogs. MSU took the matches on courts No. 3 and No. 1 to earn the point.

“(Mississippi State) came out and jumped all over us in doubles,” Cox said, “Then they carried the momentum into singles and played very well at the bottom of their lineup.”

In singles play, the Bulldogs secured their place in Round 2 by posting wins at positions three, five and six. MSU plays tournament host Georgia, the 3rd-seed, Friday.

Razorback sophomore Andrei Nicoara dropped his match at No. 6 to a former SEC Player of the Week pick, Bulldog Florent Girod, 6-3, 6-1.

Senior Imraan Ismail was defeated on court 5, 6-4, 6-2, by Luis Carvalho. Ismail, a native of Harare, Zimbabwe, likely ended his Razorback career with a 27-38 career mark in singles, and an impressive doubles resume, which includes capturing the 2004 ITA Central Region Championship with doubles partner Matt Roberts.

Roberts fell at No. 3 to Pierre Mouillon, clinching the MSU win. Roberts, the nation’s 97th-ranked player, is 26-9 this season, finished 9-2 in SEC action and was chosen as a second-team All-SEC performer.

“Today was the same as it has been all season,” Cox said, “The top of our lineup (spots 1-3) is competitive with anyone in the country, but doubles and the bottom hurt us all season.”

The SEC Tournament capped a brutal schedule for the Hogs, a slate that featured 13 of 20 regular season matches away from Fayetteville and 19 of 21 total contests against ranked competition.

“We’ll walk away from this season looking at the positives,” Cox said.

Several Razorbacks could have a chance to continue playing this season as individuals. Juniors Rohan Gajjar, Adrians Zguns and Roberts should all be considered for the NCAA Individual Championships, Cox said. Gajjar is currently ranked 55th, Roberts reached a high ranking of 73, while Zguns opened the fall ranked 10th in the nation.

Results
Mississippi State 4, Arkansas 0
SEC Tournament First Round
Athens, Ga.

Doubles
1. Bjelica/Pinto (MSU) def. Zguns/Gajjar (ARK), 8-3
2. Roberts/Ismail (ARK) led Girod/Carvalho (MSU), 6-5 (Did Not Finish)
3. Frayssinoux/Mouillon (MSU) def. Jung/Nicoara (ARK), 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 1*
*-Clinched point

Singles
1. #55 Rohan Gajjar (ARK) led Ivan Bjelica (MSU), 7-5 (DNF)
2. Phillippe Frayssinoux (MSU) led Adrians Zguns (ARK), 6-4, 1-2 (DNF)
3. Pierre Mouillon (MSU) def. #97 Matt Roberts (ARK), 6-2, 6-4
4. Michael Jung (ARK) led Jose-Carlos Pinto (MSU), 6-4, 2-3 (DNF)
5. Luis Carvalho (MSU) def. Imraan Ismail (ARK), 6-4, 6-2
6. Florent Girod (MSU) def. Andrei Nicoara (ARK), 6-3, 6-1
Order of Finish:6, 5, 3*
*-Clinched match

Match Notes
Mississippi State 12-8, 6-5; National ranking #20
Arkansas 5-16, 2-9; National ranking #70
SEC Tournament First Round
Miss. St. – No. 6 seed; Arkansas – No. 11 seed



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