ATHENS, Ga. — After finishing its non-conference schedule last week, the 32nd-ranked Razorback men’s tennis team will return to conference play this weekend as it will travel to 4th-ranked Georgia and then return home to face 24th-ranked Tennessee.
The Razorbacks are currently on a four-match winning streak heading into their match with Georgia. With wins over Wichita State, Southern Miss, Lamar and UMKC, the Hogs are now 14-5 on the year.
In its first two matches of the final non-conference stretch, the Razorbacks scored wins against ranked WSU and Southern Miss squads. The Shockers came into the match as No. 69 in the nation, according to ITA, while the Golden Eagles were No. 66. The two wins were Arkansas’ fourth and fifth ranked wins of the season. The wins were also key for the Razorbacks as it vaulted them up 11 spots in the rankings.
The four matches were also a good opportunity for some of the underclassmen to get playing time as freshmen Jovan Parlic and Victor Hoang both notched at least two wins to their record. Parlic had probably the best performance for any Razorback during the four-match stretch as he went 4-0 in singles to move to 12-4 on the year.
Arkansas has had plenty of production throughout the lineup this season, but most notably from their seniors Nikolas Zogaj and Matt Walters. Against Wichita State, it was Walters and Zogaj that scored singles wins for the Hogs as it helped them cruise to a 5-2 victory. Zogaj was also playing in his first match as the No. 120 player in the nation as he defeated WSU’s David Cavalcanti in straight sets for his team-leading 15th win of the year.
In doubles, the Razorbacks have been more than spectacular all season as they have won 67 percent of their matches and have been led by the dominating team of Walters and junior Hall Fess. The duo has been the de facto top doubles team for Arkansas all season and their performance has shown in the records as they are currently 18-4 on the year and 10-3 in dual play.
Fess has been arguably the best doubles player for Arkansas this year as he already has 22 wins individually in doubles play, but right behind him has been his partner, Walters, who sits at 19 doubles wins.
Even with the top spot locked down for the Hogs in doubles, the team seems to have found a combination at positions two and three. Zogaj and junior Gregoire Lehmann are 5-5 on the year at the No. 2 spot and sophomores Mike Nott and Manfred Jeske have been racking up the wins at No. 3 as they are 5-2 at that position and 10-3 overall this season.
This weekend’s matches will be split between home and away for the team as it will travel to Athens, Ga. for Friday’s match with the Bulldogs. Georgia enters the match with a 14-1 record and is 4-0 in conference play. Last time out, Georgia bounced back from a 2-0 deficit with second-ranked Ohio State to score the 4-3 win and has now won six straight matches dating back to Feb. 27.
Georgia has five players with at least 20 wins this season. Sadio Doumbia leads all Bulldogs with 27 wins in singles and has split time between the top two spots. Doumbia also has nine wins against ranked players, which has helped him climb to No. 20 in the ITA rankings. Four out of those five players with 20 wins are also ranked in the top-125 as Wil Spencer comes in as No. 8, Ignacio Taboada at No. 29, K.U. Singh at No. 50 and Hernus Pieters at No. 70.
On Sunday, the Razorbacks will return to the Billingsley Tennis Center to take on the Volunteers. Tennessee is currently 9-8 on the year and 1-3 in SEC play. Its lone conference win came against South Carolina during the opening weekend of SEC play, but have dropped two of its last three matches.
The Volunteers only have one player who is ranked by ITA in singles, Mikelis Libietis, who is No. 51 in the nation. Libietis has been the top singles player for Tennessee this year as he is 8-7 at the top position and 16-8 overall on the year.
Friday’s match with Georgia is set to start at 1:30 p.m in Athens, Ga., while the Tennessee match on Sunday is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start in the Billingsley Tennis Center. Live stats and the live blog will be available for the Tennessee match and a full recap with complete results will be posted online for both matches following each day’s play.