FAYETTEVILLE — Having faced nationally-ranked opponents in six of its first seven dual matches this season, the No. 44 University of Arkansas women’s tennis team (5-2, 0-0 SEC) will make it eight of nine opponents by hosting No. 24 Oklahoma and No. 30 Purdue in Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend.
The Razorbacks have already earned two wins over ranked opponents this season with victories over No. 55 Kansas State and No. 63 North Texas, but look for number three and four when the Sooners and Boilermakers pay visit to the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center.
Head coach Michael Hegarty acknowledged the significance of non-conference weekends against ranked opponents, especially those dual matches take place on home court.
"Outside of conference scheduling, you’re trying to earn as many RPI wins as you can to compliment your conference play," Hegartysaid. "Last year we didn’t quite do enough in the non-conference. We beat a highly-ranked Tulsa team, but we had close loses to quite a few teams that would have gotten us in (to the NCAA Championship). These early dual matches are critical and this weekend is another great example of that."
Arkansas has already earned four RPI wins this season, including a pair of wins in a doubleheader sweep of Wichita State. A perennial power in the Missouri Valley Conference and NCAA qualifier, the Shockers recently moved into the ITA national team rankings at No. 62.
Freshman Shannon Hudson has stepped in and had an immediate impact for the Razorbacks this season, competing at No. 2 singles and recording a 5-1 record so far this season. The Virginia Beach, Va., native has also paired with teammate Sarah McLean at No. 3 doubles for a 4-1 record.
Reigning ITA Central Region Rookie of the Year Yang Pang has held her own at No. 1 singles for Arkansas this season, holding a 3-4 record and a 4-2 doubles record at No. 2 with partner Oleksandra Shkorupeieva.
No. 44 Arkansas takes on No. 24 Oklahoma (5-1) to begin the weekend Friday at noon. The Razorbacks then face No. 30 Purdue (3-2) on Sunday at 11 a.m.
For more information on Arkansas women’s tennis, follow @RazorbackWTEN on Twitter.