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Tennis Hogs Send Seniors Out in Style

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Tennis Hogs Send Seniors Out in Style
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas men’s tennis team defeated No. 18 Auburn, 4-2, in the last home match of the season Tuesday. This was also the last home match for seniors Brad Berry, Oskar Johansson and Henrik Tofft.

No. 37 Arkansas (15-7, 4-6) started off sluggish, losing the doubles point in two straight matches. Aleksey Bubis and Oggie Kolev lost to Auburn’s Rameez Junaid and Mark Kovacs, 8-4. And in the No. 3 position, Magnus Kullenberg and Eduardo Pacheco fell to the Tiger’s Ryan Sanders and Estevam Strecker, 8-6. Seniors Oskar Johansson and Henrik Tofft did not finish their doubles match after Auburn clinched the point.

In singles, No. 1 Johansson got back on track, defeating Junaid, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Tofft’s match was not finished due to the Hogs’ claiming a 4-2 victory while he was in his third set. At the No. 4 spot, Kullenberg fought back to seal the win for Arkansas. Kullenberg defeated Strecker, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4. The Hogs only singles loss came at the No. 3 spot with Kolev getting knocked off by No. 23 Tiago Ruffoni, 6-3, 6-3. At No. 5, Aleksey Bubis stayed with it and came back from a first set loss to take a victory over Kovacs, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3. And in the No. 6 spot, Tiago Azevedo stepped in and defeated Raitis Tukans in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

Arkansas’ 15 victories are the most wins the Hogs have had in a season since going 15-11 in 1994. This victory also marked the Razorbacks’ third straight victory over a top 30 team following Sunday’s 4-3 win at No. 22 Alabama and Friday’s 4-3 win over No. 28 South Carolina.

Tuesday’s match began outside, but had to be moved indoors due to rain, and Arkansas head coach Robert Cox says this helped his team pull off the upset.

“We came out slow in doubles and they really kicked us,” Cox says. “But, then it started raining and we had to move indoors, and we just play better inside. We fought hard and we never gave up.”

While this was a great win for the team, Cox says it is good to be able to send the seniors out with something like this.

“I can’t say enough about Brad, Oskar and Henrik,” Cox says. “They have all done so much for the team in their time here, and we are really going to miss them all.”

As for how the three seniors reacted to not only today’s win, but their time at Arkansas, they all say it has been a great ride.

“This is a great way to finish,” senior Brad Berry says. “To come back and win the way we did, was just awesome. I am just so emotional right now, I had tears in my eyes when I went out to hug Magnus. I have some great memories and this one will last forever.”

Berry’s not the only one who was excited with the way the Hogs fought back to win the last home match of the season. Tofft says the home season couldn’t have ended any better than it did.
“The last stretch of this season hasn’t gone so well, so to win this is a great feeling,” Tofft says. “One thing about this team is that everybody is always fighting to win, and I think that is what makes us different. And honestly, as long as the team is winning, it doesn’t matter as much if I lose.”

And Arkansas’ third senior, Johansson, says it was a great feeling to go out this way. Johansson had another incentive for wanting a singles victory today, his parents came in from Sweden to watch his last home match.

“To play and win the last home match is something I will never forget,” Johansson says. “Things have worked out so well for me here, and I have learned so much from Coach Cox and everyone else. I am just really happy and emotional. I am also glad that my parents could be here and watch me play my last home match as an Arkansas Razorback.”

One other comment that all three seniors and Coach Cox had to say about Tuesday’s match was that the crowd was awesome.

“I don’t think we could have won today without the crowd,” Tofft says. “They are great, and they really give us the boost that we need when we are down.”

Arkansas’ next match is Sunday at No. 31 Kentucky, the last regular season match of the season for the Hogs before going back to Lexington for the Southeastern Conference Tournament April 19-22.

No. 37 Arkansas 4, No. 18 Auburn 2
April 10, 2001
Singles
Oskar Johansson (Ark.) def. Rameez Junaid 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
Tiago Ruffoni (Aub) def. Oggie Kolev 6-3, 6-3
Magnus Kullenberg (Ark.) def. Estevam Strecker 7-6, 1-6, 6-4
Aleksey Bubis (Ark.) def. Mark Kovacs 2-6, 7-6, 6-3
Tiago Azevedo (Ark.) def. Raitis Tukans 6-4, 6-4

Doubles
Junaid/Kovacs (Aub) def. Bubis/Kolev 8-4
Sanders/Strecker (Aub) def. Kullenberg/Pacheco 8-6



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