KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For just the third time in program history and the first time in 10 years, Arkansas will play for a spot in the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament championship match Saturday.
Now winners of four straight, the No. 11 seed Razorbacks (10-15, 3-10 SEC) stormed past No. 7 ranked and No. 3 seed South Carolina 4-2 on Friday at the Dr. Robert L. Barksdale Tennis Stadium to earn a spot in the 2018 tournament’s semifinal. It marked Arkansas’ highest-ranked victory since beating No. 2 Georgia in the Sweet Sixteen in 2008 and the first time the Razorbacks have won three matches in the SEC Tournament during the program’s history.
The Razorbacks are now set to face off against No. 9 ranked and No. 2 seed Florida (17-7, 11-2 SEC) at 9 a.m. CT Saturday.
“I haven’t seen courage and fight of this level in a mighty long time,” Razorbacks head coach Michael Hegarty said. “These young women have done it the right way all season long and they deserve a tremendous amount of credit. Including the match here Saturday that is four consecutive wins on these courts and I’d say Knoxville is our second favorite -ville in the country, after Fayetteville of course.”
South Carolina (19-6, 11-2 SEC) gained the early advantage Friday by clinching the doubles point with wins at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. The Gamecocks then extended their lead to 2-0 with a win at No. 5 singles.
But the Razorbacks would battle back and go on to win the next four matches for the team victory, after being down 6-love on courts 3 and 4.
Junior No. 89 Ana Oparenovic scored a huge win in straight sets at No. 2 and leveled the overall match, after sophomore Natsuho Arakawa’s comeback three-set win at No. 4.
Tied 4-4 in the third set at No. 6, sophomore Jackie Carr won the next two games for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory to set up the clincher for junior Mia Jurasic at No. 3.
Jurasic overcame the first-set loss and muscled past South Carolina’s No. 30 Hadley Berg 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 to secure the Razorbacks’ impressive 4-2 victory.