FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ women’s tennis team is in the NCAA Tournament and the Razorbacks are hosting a regional, but that’s becoming common for head coach Michael Hegarty and his program.
In his eighth season as the head coach, Hegarty has Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time. The Razorbacks are in the post-season for the fourth straight season and they are hosting an NCAA Regional for the second time in three years.
Saturday’s first round has Clemson meeting Wichita State at 10 a.m. with Arkansas facing Sacramento State at 1 p.m. The two winners meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. with the regional champion advancing to the NCAA Championship at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. All three matches are at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center.
"We are very excited to be hosting the NCAA Regional," Hegarty says. "Both first-round matches should be competitive. There’s not an easy match in sight. It’s an excellent regional with four very good teams. We’re expecting three really good matches."
Not only are the Razorbacks getting to the post-season on a regular basis, but they are having success.
When Hegarty took over for the 2004 season, Arkansas was coming off four straight losing seasons.
He had the Razorbacks in the NCAA Tournament in 2006.
In 2008, Arkansas won the SEC Western Division, won the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional with a win over No. 14 North Carolina, topped No. 2 Georgia in the Sweet Sixteen and advanced to the Elite Eight to finish the year 19-10 and ranked No. 14 in the nation.
The 2009 club won the SEC Western Division, hosted and won the NCAA Fayetteville Regional with a win over No. 28 TCU and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to No. 3 Duke, and finishing 15-8 with a No. 15 final ranking.
Last year’s team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Norman Regional, beating host Oklahoma, and finished 18-10 with a No. 22 final ranking.
"This is really healthy for the program," Hegarty says. "I give a lot of credit to this year’s team. We are medium aged to young with just one senior, and they have really taken the ball and carried it strong. I’m very pleased with the efforts of the team to put us in this position."
This year’s team is 17-9 overall and ranked No. 21 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Hegarty’s teams have six NCAA Tournament wins over the last three years with three consecutive final top 25 rankings.
Individually, Anouk Tigu is the lone senior. She is 24-9 in singles and ranked No. 33 in the nation. Her doubles team, with partner Claudine Paulson, is 26-9 and ranked No. 14.
"She’s been a big part of the last three NCAA Tournament runs," Hegarty says. "This is her last one and she definitely wants to carry us as far as she can."
Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament Under Head Coach Michael Hegarty2006 – NCAA first round2008 – NCAA Elite Eight, won Chapel Hill Regional, beat No. 2 Georgia in Sweet Sixteen2009 – NCAA Sweet Sixteen, won Fayetteville Regional2010 – NCAA second round
Records and Rankings (last four years)2008 – 18-10, No. 14 final ranking2009 – 15-8, No. 152010 – 18-10, No. 222011 – 17-9, currently No. 21