comscore script

Razorback Netters Face Top-10 Challenges in SEC Play

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorback Netters Face Top-10 Challenges in SEC Play

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 33 Razorback tennis team jumps back into Southeastern Conference play Friday when it hosts the 10th-ranked team from Tennessee at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center. Arkansas (10-6, 2-2) will complete its weekend with a trip to Athens, Ga., for a Sunday match against No. 3 Georgia, the defending national champions. Both matches are scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT start.

Arkansas has won three matches in a row heading into its match with the Volunteers. In their last completed match, the Razorbacks defeated Hawaii, 4-3, in Honolulu. The Razorbacks’ match against BYU-Hawaii was cancelled due to rain.

Sophomore Dmitry Lebedev extended his personal win streak to a career-high ten matches with a straight-sets win over Hawaii’s Jeff Fitch. Lebedev leads UA with a 13-3 dual record. Junior Blake Strode is positioned at No. 90 in the latest ITA singles rankings. He is 15-10 on the season and 9-7 at No. 1 singles with three wins over ranked opponents.

Since joining the SEC in 1992, the Razorbacks have faced Tennessee 21 times and trail 6-15 in the head-to-head meetings. Last season, the Volunteers beat UA twice, 7-0 during the regular season and 4-1 in the first round of the conference tournament. Arkansas’ last win against Tennessee came in 2006 with a 5-2 triumph in Fayetteville. In their last match, the Volunteers dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 18 Florida.

Tennessee (13-2, 2-2) features three ranked players and one top-20 doubles teams. No. 17 J.P. Smith is 18-7 in singles play and teams with Kaden Hensel to form the 17th-ranked doubles team in the nation. Hensel and Boris Conkic are ranked No. 117 and 118, respectively.

The third-ranked Bulldogs hold a 15-2 advantage in conference matches with Arkansas. Georgia (14-1, 4-0) beat the Razorback netters, 7-0, last season in Athens. Arkansas picked up a 4-3 win over Georgia in 2004 for its last victory against the conference foe. Georgia swept then-No. 40 Georgia Tech in its last outing.

Five Bulldogs players are ranked by the ITA, including No. 6 Travis Helgeson and No. 8 Nate Schnugg. Helgeson is 16-5 this season, while Schnugg has put together a 33-7 record during his sophomore year. Jamie Hunt (No. 36), Luis Flores (63) and Javier Garrapiz (93) are the other ranked Bulldogs. Helgeson and Garrapiz form the No. 30 doubles team and Hunt and Schnugg are No. 31 in the latest rankings.

In a recent release by the ITA, the Razorbacks are ranked seventh in the nation in total attendance—1,350—of through February home matches. The report is part of the ITA’s inaugural attendance race. Arkansas is 10th in the nation with an average of 225 fans per home match. Friday’s home match against the Volunteers will be the Razorbacks’ 11th of the season. Including the Razorbacks, three SEC teams are ranked in the top ten of total attendance. Sunday’s opponent, Georgia, is ranked sixth and Florida is No. 9 on the list.

Log on to www.hogwired.com for live stats and complete results of both matches.



Sports Category : Tennis (M)