FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Success in individual draw tournaments in the fall and All-Southeastern Conference recognition in the spring highlighted Arkansas’ men’s tennis season in 2011. In the process, head coach Robert Cox has closed in on his 400th overall career victory and his 300th at Arkansas. Cox has 391 wins in 27 years overall and 293 in 24 with the Razorbacks.
The Hogs kicked off the fall season at the Purdue Invitational. In his first tournament as a collegiate student-athlete, freshman Michael Nott won his flight in Purdue and began his career with a 5-0 record. Chris Nott, Michael’s brother, also had a solid start to his season. The No. 41-ranked senior began his fall with a solid weekend at the Virginia 1-Plus-1 Tournament, as he competed for third place in his flight. Along with his doubles partner Matt Hogan, the No. 37-ranked duo also took third place in their doubles flight. Senior Matt Hogan went 3-1 in the tournament and won the singles consolation bracket in Virginia.
At the Miami Invitational in October, two players had almost perfect tournaments. Sophomore Gregoire Lehmann went undefeated and emerged from his flight as the winner while sophomore Mike Ward tied for the top spot in his flight. The Nott/Hogan duo once again competed at the ITA Regional Championship. They made it to the semifinals of the main draw, but fell to Rifat Bikyakov/Aleksey Bessonov from Oklahoma State, 9-7. As a team, the Razorbacks finished the fall with a singles record of 47-45 and a doubles record of 20-13.
“We got better and better as the season went on,” said head coach Robert Cox. “The guys bought into everything we put in front of them. I think the culture has really changed among our team. I think they see a bright future in front of us.”
The Razorbacks finished the 2011 spring season with a 7-17 record. The team was led by Nott and Hogan, who played the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Nikolas Spinazze was also a senior in 2011.
“Chris and Matt played at the top of the lineup all year, and to play the one and two in the SEC and compete every match says volumes about their character,” said Cox. “All three seniors are great kids. I’m very proud of them and they fought hard all four years. They taught the underclassmen some very valuable lessons, and they did a really good job of leading the rest of the team.”
Nott finished his career with 78 singles victories and 65 doubles wins. This year he reached a career-high ranking of No. 41 and a No. 26 doubles ranking last spring with partner Dmitry Lebedev. Nott was also named to this year’s All-SEC team for his second straight year. He was also a nominee for the SEC’s Brad Davis Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship.
Hogan finished his career with 56 singles victories and 53 doubles wins. Hogan reached a singles ranking of No. 39 his sophomore season and a No. 14 doubles ranking with All-American partner Blake Strode. Taj Harrison also received recognition this year, and was named to the SEC’s Community Service team for his accomplishments off the courts and his commitment to the community.
Over the course of the season, four Hogs managed to gather eight victories over ranked opponents. Hogan and Nott each accumulated three each, and Nikolas Zogaj and Mike Ward also each took a victory of their own. In doubles play, the Razorbacks snagged three wins from ranked teams. The Hogs lose three seniors, but eight players return next season.
“We are going to keep doing things like we’ve done in the past,” said Cox. “We will workout over the summer, the kids will go to summer school, get in lots of tournaments and get ready to compete next year.”