FAYETTEVILLE — Having already earned four RPI wins this season, including two over nationally-ranked opponents, the University of Arkansas women’s tennis team (5-2, 0-0 SEC) moved up to No. 44 in the national team rankings, as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Tuesday.
The new ranking marks the program’s highest since last season when the Razorbacks were also slotted at No. 44 in the country for the week of March 29, 2013.
"We’re pleased with the record and performance so far this season and we feel that we’re playing well," head coach Michael Hegarty said. "We’re also excited with the difficulty of schedule we’ve played to this point. We’ve played almost every match against a ranked team and we already have some good RPI wins over Wichita State, North Texas and Kansas State, which are all wins that will help us later on."
Arkansas opened the season at No. 51 in the ITA team rankings and has since seen a steady accent by adding notable wins of then-No. 55 Kansas State and then-No. 63 North Texas. The Razorbacks also earned a pair of wins in a doubleheader sweep over Wichita State, which is currently ranked No. 62 nationally.
Arkansas has faced nationally-ranked opponents in six of its first seven dual matches so far this season. The Razorbacks have only lost to No. 8 Georgia and No. 29 Oklahoma State.
"With our schedule, we’ve been taught a few lessons from a title contender in Georgia, and also Oklahoma State who came in and beat us at home," Hegarty said. "We’ve seen a little bit of everything so far and that’s exactly what we need to be doing as we prepare for conference play."
It was another strong showing for the Southeastern Conference as a whole in the newest ITA rankings, which were released for the week of Feb. 11. In all, 10 SEC programs are ranked in the top 45 nationally by the ITA, including Arkansas. There are four from the SEC among the top 15 alone, with a potential fifth team in Alabama sitting just outside looking in at No. 16.
With conference play looming, No. 44 Arkansas prepares itself with one final test hosting No. 24 Oklahoma and No. 30 Purdue this weekend in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks begin the weekend’s work against the Sooners on Friday at noon, then are scheduled to battle the Boilermakers on Sunday at 11 a.m.
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