FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorback tennis team hosts their final two home matches of the season this weekend, as the Hogs welcome Southeastern Conference foes Alabama and Auburn.
“We’re glad to be home,” Razorback head coach Robert Cox said, “We’re entering our final home stand, and we’re excited about playing Alabama and Auburn. Traditionally, our matches with both of them are back and forth, and I expect that this year.”
The Razorbacks, ranked 75th in the latest ITA computer rankings, return to friendly confines of the UA Tennis Complex for only the sixth time this season. This weekend’s home slate also continues Arkansas’ brutal schedule, as Alabama (74) and Auburn (29) mark the 16th and 17th nationally ranked opponents for the Hogs.
Junior Rohan Gajjar is currently the lone ranked Razorback. Gajjar is ranked No. 75 in this week’s ITA rankings, the sixth consecutive poll he’s been notarized in dating back to September 10, 2004. The Mumbai, India native is 19-13 overall this season, playing in both the No. 1 and 2 spots, 4-4 in SEC play and boasts five wins over ranked players. Fellow junior Matt Roberts sports the Hogs’ best record at 23-8. The product of Little Rock is also solid in league play, standing 6-2 heading into the weekend.
An intriguing storyline to Friday’s match with Alabama is the possible match-up of Razorback freshman Michael Jung against older brother and Crimson Tide sophomore Joseph Jung. The two could meet on the doubles court as Michael and partner Andrei Nicoara could face Joseph and partner R. J. Murray. The siblings are unlikely to meet in singles as Michael, who is 10-8 this season and 3-3 in conference play, will likely fill one of the 4-6 slots for the Hogs, while Joseph, ranked No. 86 nationally, is slated for one of the Crimson Tide’s top two spots.
Jung leads Alabama (6-12, 0-8 SEC), who lost their last match, 6-1, at Kentucky. The Tide also feature Luigi D’Agord, who has twice this spring been named the SEC player of the week. Alabama won last year’s match in Tuscaloosa, 5-2. Since 1985, the series is tied 8-8.
Auburn (11-6, 2-6 SEC) is led by Gabor Zoltan Pelta. Pelta moved up to 47th in the ITA rankings, and is also nationally ranked in doubles (13th) with partner Alex Schweizer. The all-time series between the Razorbacks and Tigers is tied at 12 apiece, with the Hogs claiming last year’s match in Auburn, 5-2.
“This has been one of my favorite groups to coach,” Cox said, “We’ve never given up, and that’s been a source of strength through this shocker of a season. Hopefully, we can put the pieces together this weekend.”
Sunday’s match is Senior Day for the netters, marking seniors Imraan Ismail and Talley Parker’s last match in Fayetteville. Senior Day ceremonies honoring Ismail and Parker begin after the doubles’ point.
Friday’s meet with Alabama begins at 1:30 p.m., while Sunday’s contest against Auburn gets underway at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played at the UA Outdoor Tennis Complex across from Bud Walton Arena on Razorback Road.