FAYETTEVILLE — The 52nd-ranked Razorback men’s tennis team concludes its regular season Saturday when it faces the No. 21 LSU Tigers at the Billingsley Tennis Center at 1 p.m. Saturday’s match will also be the final home matches for seniors Nikolas Zogaj, Matt Walters and Taj Harrison as each player will participate in Senior Day ceremonies in between doubles and singles.
The Razorbacks come into Saturday’s match with a 14-11 overall record and are 1-9 in the Southeastern Conference. The team is coming off a tough weekend last week that saw 7-0 and 4-1 losses to No. 9 Florida and No. 38 South Carolina respectively. Even with the six-match losing streak the team is on, the Razorbacks continue to hold on to the possibility of a postseason berth in the NCAA Tournament. A win against the Tigers on Saturday would definitely help that cause.
Throughout this spring, the team has seen its share of success, scoring wins over five ranked teams and its highest ITA ranking (32) since 2008. Much of that success can be credited to its three seniors, who have combined to make up 33 percent of the team’s singles wins. Zogaj and Walters have clearly been the team’s frontrunners as they own the top two spots on the team in singles wins with 16 and 15 wins respectively.
Zogaj, who came to Arkansas by way of the country of Belgium, is currently in the midst of his seventh semester on campus after joining the team in the spring of 2009. Over the last four years, Zogaj has accumulated nearly 60 wins in singles with this year being his best year by far. This year Zogaj is 16-15 and leads the team with four conference victories. Zogaj also has three wins against ranked opponents with his best win coming against Kentucky’s Anthony Rossi on March 4. At the time of the match, Rossi was No. 14 in the nation, but Zogaj fought hard for a three-set, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0(8), victory. The win was a springboard for Zogaj as he is now No. 108 in the nation as has earned two more ranked wins since that match.
Walters, like Zogaj, has been the team’s vocal leader this season. Walters is a native Arkansan from Jonesboro, Ark. and joined Zogaj this year as the team’s two captains. Since arriving on campus in 2008, Walters has over 50 wins in singles with his biggest total of 15 coming this year. Each year that Walters has been a Razorback, he has steadily worked his way up the lineup and solidified a spot in the top three positions for his final season.
Walters saw plenty of success in singles this year, but he, along with junior Hall Fess, have put together a doubles season that will be remembered for many years to come. Walters and Fess have been the de facto No. 1 doubles team for head coach Robert Cox this year as they have gone 20-7 together with 12 dual wins at the No. 1 spot. Three of those wins were against ranked opponents and pushed them to No. 48 in the nation. Walters play was recognized by the SEC earlier this year as he was awarded the SEC Player of the Week following the team’s win over No. 73 DePaul.
Finally, Harrison came to Arkansas from Kansas City, Kan. Harrison spent his first two years of college at Johnson County Community College before transferring to Arkansas. After redshirting in the 2010 season, Harrison played his first full season as a Razorback in 2011. Since then, Harrison has nearly 20 wins in singles and over 15 doubles wins.
Harrison’s presence has been felt off the court as he has been a big community service leader among all student-athletes. Harrison has been the vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the last year and has attended over 15 community service events, many of which have been a recurring attendance all year. Some of the events that Harrison has attended this year include Sweat Hawgs, Book Hogs, the “Together WE CAN” (SEC Canned Food Drive), Lift Up America, Christmas Shop with the Razorbacks, Men’s March Against Violence, as well as helping with various kid’s tennis clinics.
Saturday’s men’s tennis match with LSU is set to start at 1 p.m. at the Billingsley Tennis Center. Senior Day ceremonies will occur between doubles and singles.
The live blog and live stats will be available online during the match and a full match recap with complete results will be posted online following the match.
For complete coverage of the Razorback men’s tennis team or University athletics, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.