FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 2014-15 University of Arkansas’ women’s tennis team will certainly have some new faces coming into the fall schedule, but the expectations and goals for the program have not wavered. The Razorbacks have missed out on the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons after recording five straight appearances between 2008 and 2012, and have their eyes set on returning. To do so, the Razorbacks will fuse a group of returning and experienced talent with a group of impact newcomers this year.
“It’s a combination of excellent experience and talented newcomers, you’ve got a bit of a blend there,” head coach Michael Hegarty said. “You’ve got four of the top six returning, and you’ve got four well-credentialed, impact types. It’s an excellent blend of experience and youth.”
Arkansas begins its 2014 fall schedule Sept. 12-14 when it travels to Little Rock, Ark., to compete in the Little Rock Classic.
The Razorbacks return four key contributors from last year’s team that finished 13-16 overall and 2-11 in Southeastern Conference play and will be welcoming in a total of six new players. Arkansas finished fifth in the SEC West, but was ranked every week during the 2014 spring season, beginning at No. 51, climbing to as high as No. 33, and finishing at No. 59.
In fact, the Razorbacks have been ranked in 114 consecutive Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) polls, dating back to the 2008 season when weekly polls were established. Arkansas has appeared in the final ITA rankings in each of the past 12 years.
For the second consecutive season, Arkansas will not have a single senior on the roster.
Arkansas returns the top two singles players in its lineup, including sophomore Shannon Hudson and junior Yang Pang. Hegarty says he is confident about the top of his lineup, calling it “one of the better one-two punches in the conference.”
Hudson made quite the splash last season in her freshman campaign. The Virginia Beach, Va., native and fourth-generation Razorback completed the season with a 20-8 overall singles record, including 13-6 in dual play and 3-2 in conference action. Her 13 dual wins made her just one of five freshman in the conference to record that many wins or more. In fact, she was one of 21 in the conference overall to record 13 or more wins.
She finished 3-1 when competing on the top court and 10-5 when competing on the No. 2 court. She also made an appearance in the ITA singles poll, coming in at No. 115 on Jan. 2, 2014.
Hudson faced a total of 10 ranked singles opponents in dual play last season, with eight of the matches going unfinished. She did upset No. 114 Emily Flickinger of Auburn 6-1, 6-3 on March 7.
In doubles, Hudson tallied an 11-14 overall record, including 8-10 in dual play.
Pang has built a solid resume her first two years in Fayetteville and will be looking to add to it during her junior season. The Nanjing, China, native tallied a 15-19 overall singles record, including 8-15 in dual play and 3-7 in SEC matches last season. She played all but three matches on the No. 1 court, posting an 8-12 record on the top court. Pang made two appearances in the ITA singles poll last season, coming in at No. 43 on Sept. 6, 2013, and No. 71 on Jan. 2, 2014.
Pang faced 10 ranked opponents throughout the dual season, upsetting No. 60 Georgina Selllyn of Vanderbilt on Feb. 28.
In doubles, Pang compiled a 19-13 overall record including 11-9 in dual play and 3-5 in SEC play. She teamed with sophomore Oleksandra Shkorupeieva for 19 of her 20 dual matches. Pang also appeared in the ITA doubles poll last season, coming in at No. 46 on Jan. 2.
Pang’s sophomore season came on the heels of an impressive freshman campaign in which she became the first Razorback freshman ever to qualify for the NCAA Individual Championships.
For her career, Pang has appeared in a total of nine ITA singles polls, with her highest ranking of No. 42 coming on April 16, 2013.
Her career numbers for singles stand at 32-26 overall, 19-27 in dual play, and 10-13 in SEC play. In doubles, she is 21-16 overall, including 13-12 in dual play and 3-6 in SEC play.
Junior Flavia Araujo has been a steady, consistent contributor to both the singles and doubles lineup through her first two seasons and will look to continue those successes into her junior year. Araujo tallied a 9-10 overall singles record last season including a 5-4 mark in dual play and 1-3 in SEC play. The majority of her matches were competed on court six, where she posted a 3-3 record. Araujo’s 7-6(6), 7-5 win over Tracy Dong on court six March 16 helped the Razorbacks come from behind to defeat Missouri on the road, 4-3.
In doubles, Araujo tallied a 7-8 overall record along with a 3-5 dual record and a 3-1 record in conference play.
For her career, Araujo has a singles record of 15-16 overall, 11-10 in dual play, and 1-7 in SEC play. She is 10-10 in doubles overall for her career, with a record of 6-7 in dual play and 3-2 in SEC play.
The fourth returner is sophomore Oleksandra Shkorupeieva. Shkorupeieva joined the team in January 2014 and made an immediate impact as a freshman. Splitting time mostly between the four, five and six courts, she posted a 12-11 dual record and was 2-7 in SEC play. She finished with a 5-1 record when competing on court six.
In doubles, Shkorupeieva posted a 12-8 record. She competed almost exclusively with Pang as the duo posted an 11-8 record together, including going 3-1 on court one.
Head coach Michael Hegarty will enter his 12th season at the helm of the Razorbacks in 2014-15. He owns a 147-129 (.532) career record at Arkansas and is the winningest coach in Arkansas women’s tennis history.
A total of six new faces will join the Razorbacks this season, including four “impact types” according to Hegarty.
Nicole Breaux joins the Razorbacks as a junior after spending her first two seasons with Louisiana-Lafayette. Breaux was a fixture at the top of the Ragin’ Cajuns lineup in both singles and doubles. For her career, she tallied a 28-34 overall singles record, including 18-33 in dual play. She compiled a record of 16-18 when competing on court two. Breaux owns a doubles record of 24-24 overall, including 18-20 in dual play.
Junior Makenzie Craft joins the Razorbacks in what will be her third team in as many years. Craft certainly brings with her a championship pedigree to Fayetteville, as she was a key member of Georgia’s SEC championship in 2013 and Baylor’s Big 12 championship in 2014. Combining her two seasons together, Craft owns a 27-22 overall singles record, including 10-9 in dual play. She owns a 5-4 record in conference play, including 4-2 in the SEC. In 2013 with Georgia, she also appeared in two ITA singles polls, coming in at a high of No. 76 on Jan. 3, 2013.
Her career doubles record includes 18-7 overall and 7-2 in dual play.
During her junior tennis days, Craft was listed as a blue-chip recruit, and ranked as the No. 13 recruit nationally.
Freshman Mia Jurasic comes to Arkansas by way of Ogulin, Croatia. Her resume includes winning the Croatian 16 and under national championship.
Sophomore Nastassia Rubel joins Arkansas coming from Minsk, Belarus. During her junior career, Rubel was a multiple-time member of the national team. She owns a 55-32 record when competing on the International Tennis Federation junior tour coupled with a world ranking of No. 188. Rubel also comes in with a ranking from the Women’s Tennis Association, coming in at No. 1122 in singles and No. 679 in doubles.
Freshman Peyton Jennings and sophomore-transfer Elly Fryberger provide depth to the roster and will look to contribute to the team.
Jennings was a four-year letterwinner at Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa, Okla., and claimed the state championship at No. 1 singles during her junior and senior seasons.
Fryberger played her freshman season at Kansas, seeing limited court time after being a four-year letterwinner, two-time regional champion, and finishing in fourth-place at the state championships her junior year at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colo.
In addition to the players, a new assistant coach is also in the fold this season. Luc Godin will be in his first season with the Razorbacks after serving as the men’s and women’s tennis assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2013-14. Arkansas will not be his first experience with the SEC, however, as he was the assistant coach for Auburn’s women’s program in 2011-13.
Fall 2014 Schedule
Arkansas opens the fall schedule Sept. 12-14 at the Little Rock Classic. The following weekend, the team will travel across state lines to Norman, Okla., to play in the Oklahoma Sooner Invite Sept. 19-21. Rounding out the month, the Razorbacks head north to Boulder, Colo., for the Buffalo Classic on Sept. 25-28.
The ITA Riviera All-American Championships are scheduled for Oct. 1-5. Individual selections for this nationally renowned tournament will be announced in early September.
On the weekend of Oct. 10-12, the Razorbacks will be competing in two tournaments simultaneously. Some members of the team will play in the Stephen F. Austin Classic in Nacogdoches, Texas, and other members will play in the Virginia Cavalier Invite in Charlottesville, Va.
The ITA Central Regional Championship will take place Oct. 16-20 in Stillwater, Okla. This event serves as a qualifying event for the ITA National Indoors, which will be held Nov. 6-9 in New York, N.Y.
The final spot on Arkansas’ fall schedule is a trip to Providence, R.I., to play in the Brown Mock Duals on Nov. 7-9.
“This team should be ready for big success, that’s the truth and the evidence,” Hegarty said.
For more information on Arkansas women’s tennis, follow @RazorbackWTEN on Twitter.