SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Sophomore Valentina Starkova won her third straight singles match on Saturday as it was also the clinching match and helped the No. 23 Razorbacks women’s tennis team defeat No. 41 Utah, 4-2, in the first round of the ITA Kickoff. With the win, Arkansas will now move on to play No. 4 Notre Dame, who defeated No. 47 Yale later in the day.
“This was a gutsy performance from the entire group today,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty. “Utah brought a great spirit to the table today and to our credit, we battled extremely hard for a quality win.”
The Razorbacks, who have come out of the gates fast in their previous two matches and win the doubles point, did that once again on Saturday morning winning two of three doubles matches against the Utes. Hegarty decided to go with a different look in the doubles lineup and it turned out to work to the Hogs advantage. At the No. 2 spot, juniors Kate Lukomskaya and Stephanie Roy teamed up for the first time in their careers and got the first doubles win for the Hogs over Lucia Kovarcikova and Evgenia Kryuchkova, 8-5.
It wasn’t long after that, that the Hogs got the clinching match on court one from none other than the team of sophomore Claudine Paulson and senior Anouk Tigu. They defeated the 49th-ranked team of Paige Miles and Anastasia Putilina, 8-5, for their third straight win of the spring.
Over in singles, it was much more of a back and forth battle as Arkansas and Utah would exchange match winners for the first four matches to go final. Roy would get the first point for the Hogs on court five after she dropped Miles in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3, but Utah would respond back on court two as the 60th-ranked Kryuchkova would defeat Lukomskaya, 6-2, 6-4.
With the team score 2-1, junior Emily Carbone would step up at the No. 3 spot and take a straight set victory from Kovarcikova, 6-4, 7-6(6), putting the Hogs one win away from taking the match. The Razorbacks would drop a tough three-setter on court four, but would finally take the win on court six when Starkova would clinch the match with her win over Lexi Provancha, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, giving Arkansas the 4-2 victory.
“We need to get a great recovery tonight and bring an even effort tomorrow,” said Hegarty. “We’re looking forward to it.”
With the win Arkansas will move on to play No. 4 Notre Dame in the second round of the ITA Kickoff. The winner of Sunday’s match will advance to the ITA National Indoors Championship to be played at the Boar’s Head Sports Club on Feb. 18-21 in Charlottesville, Va. Sunday’s match with the Irish is scheduled to go at 1 p.m. after the consolation match featuring Utah and Yale, which is slated for a 9 a.m. start.
For all information regarding the Razorback women’s tennis team including live stats of Sunday’s match, be sure to log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. ITA Kickoff Weekend Day 1Complete Results vs. No. 41 UtahNo. 23 Arkansas 4No. 41 Utah 2Complete Doubles ResultsOrder of Finish: 2, 1*, 3No. 1 Claudine Paulson/Anouk Tigu (ARK) def. #49 Anastasia Putilina/Paige Miles (UTAH) 8-5No. 2 Kate Lukomskaya/Stephanie Roy (ARK) def. Lucia Kovarcikova/Evgenia Kryuchkova (UTAH) 8-5No. 3 Sarah Pham/Missy Harris (UTAH) def. Jade Frampton/Valentina Starkova (ARK) 8-7(5)Complete Singles ResultsOrder of Finish: 5, 2, 3, 4, 6*No. 1 #26 Anouk Tigu (ARK) vs. #82 Anastasia Putilina (UTAH) 6-4, 4-6, 4-1 unfinished No. 2 #60 Evgenia Kryuchkova (UTAH) def. Kate Lukomskaya (ARK) 6-2, 6-4No. 3 Emily Carbone (ARK) def. Lucia Kovarcikova (UTAH) 6-4, 7-6(6)No. 4 Sarah Pham (UTAH) def. Claudine Paulson (ARK) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4No. 5 Stephanie Roy (ARK) def. Paige Miles (UTAH) 6-0, 6-3No. 6 Valentina Starkova (ARK) def. Lexi Provancha (UTAH) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4