FAYETTEVILLE- Rain drops fell outside at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center as the No. 60 Arkansas Razorbacks men’s tennis team dropped a tough battle to No. 55 LSU on Saturday afternoon, 5-2. The final conference match of the season lasted over five hours as both LSU and Arkansas refusing to give up.
"We came out with good energy out, "head coach Robert Cox said. " I am pleased with the way we stepped onto the court believing in ourselves and winning the doubles point. That is what we have been trying to achieve all season and will need to continue that as we prepare for the post season tournament."
Arkansas came out on fire for doubles action taking wins No. 2 and No.3 positions to earn the early 1-0 lead over the Tigers. The freshman duo of Mike Ward and Gregoire Lehmann started the winning momentum defeating Stefan Szanciski and Olivier Borsos, 8-6. The crowd was on the feet as the senior duo of Taylor King and Bradwin Williams clinched their last match at the Dills Indoor Center over Mark Bowtell and Julien Gauthier, 9-7. The team embraced the seniors as the Hogs prepared for singles play. All attention drew to center court as the Razorbacks recognized three outstanding seniors, Dmitry Lebedev, Bradwin Williams and Taylor King for their accomplishments on and off the court.
"I want to congratulate all three seniors," head coach Robert Cox said. "They exemplify what it means to be a great student-athlete and I am very proud of their contributions to the tennis program. They have work hard and stuck in it tough times. Taylor, Bradwin and Dmitry will all graduate and I am pleased with what they have accomplished during the time at Arkansas. Each of them has helped build this program and paved the way for those to come. "
Up next, the teams took the courts for singles play. The Tigers returned with a newfound rhythm and were able to edge the lead over the Hogs for the first time with wins at the No. 4 and No. 5 positions behind Williams and Ward. Highlighting the match was junior Matthew Hogan, who continues to display much brilliance on the court playing mostly at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. He picked up his fourth consecutive win and third SEC victory over Mark Bowtell at the No. 2 singles position. Hogan dropped the first set but came back recharged and dominated Bowtell, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
With two courts remaining and the overall score at 3-2, team leaders Nott and King battled at the No. 1 and No. 6 positions. On court six, King encouraged his teammates across the courts and was able to win the first set over Cody Loup but eventually fell in a heated third set, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.
Tension surrounded court one as No. 55 Neal Skupski and No. 65 Christopher Nottexchanges the advantage in a hard fought match. Nott was explosive in the tiebreaker and snatched the first set but Skupski came back in the second set to tie the match at a set apiece. At a crucial point in the match, Nott rallied back to regain control of the match, 5-4. The tandem continued to fight neither willing to bow down, forcing a tiebreaker in the third set. Nott’s teammates gathered around to cheer him on as he poured his heart and determination into every point but Skupski eventually won, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(4)
"We showed great effort on every court, " Cox said. "We gave ourselves every opportunity but hat’s off to LSU. They were able to turn things around after dropping the doubles point and come from behind in some close contest in singles."
Arkansas will travel for the SEC Championship tournament to be held on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. For tournament schedule and complete coverage visit: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
LSU 5 Arkansas 2Order of Finish: 5, 4, 2, 3, 6*, 1Neal Skupski (LSU) def. Christopher Nott 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(4) Matthew Hogan (UA) def. Mark Bowtell (LSU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-1Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) def. Gregoire Lehmann (UA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1Julien Gauthier (LSU) def. Mike Ward (UA) 1-6, 6-1, 6-2Stefan Szanciski (LSU) def. Bradwin Williams (UA) 6-2, 7-5Cody Loup (LSU) def. Taylor King (UA) 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2
Doubles 3, 2*Hogan/Nott (UA) vs. Skupski/Carlsson (LSU) 6-7King/Williams (UA) def. Bowtell/Borsos (LSU) 9-7Lehmann/Ward (UA) def. Szacinkski/Borsos (LSU) 8-6