FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – This weekend, the No. 53 University of Arkansas men’s tennis team will go up against two more ranked opponents in No. 21 Kentucky (8-4, 0-2) and No. 39 Vanderbilt. Already this season, the Hogs (6-6, 0-2) have played seven ranked foes, six of them ranked in the top 34.On Friday, the Razorbacks head to Lexington, Ky. for a 3 p.m. match with the Wildcats, hoping to win their first match against a top 25 team this season and stop a four match skid.
This season, the Cats are led by the No. 2 singles player in the nation, senior captain Bruno Agostinelli who, last year in Fayetteville, was a, 7-5, 6-4, loser at No. 1 singles against unranked Blake Strode.
In doubles last year, Agostinelli and partner Brad Cox defeated Strode and former Hog Colin Mascal, 8-3 in doubles. The Wildcats duo is currently ranked No. 20 and is likely to run up against Strode and current partner Matt Hogan on Friday afternoon.
Also ranked for Kentucky is freshman Eric Quigley at No. 99 in the country. Quigley carries a 9-2 singles record this season with eight straight-set wins, primarily at the No. 3 slot.
In Nashville, Tenn. on Sunday, the Razorbacks will be faced with the team that sent them packing in the first round of last season’s Southeastern Conference Tournament, held in Fayetteville. The hometown Hogs lost a tough 4-3 battle to the Commodores at the tournament after winning the teams’ regular season matchup in Nashville by the same score.
Neither Arkansas nor Vanderbilt won a doubles match during their respective victories. Instead, each team relied on the strength of its singles players to comeback from a 1-0 deficit to beat the host team.
Strode and Chris Nott were the only Razorbacks to win both their singles matches against Vanderbilt. Strode downed Ryan Preston at No. 1 singles in the regular season (7-6(1), 6-7(4), 7-6(2)) and postseason (6-3, 6-3). Nott took down Nik Cromydas in the regular season match at No. 3 singles by the score of 6-3, 6-4 and defeated Evan Dufaux in the No. 5 slot at the tournament, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Going into the weekend match, the Commodores’ Alex Zotov has won three straight matches in the No. 6 position and six of his last seven matches overall. Zotov won in his only match against the Hogs last year, a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-3, decision at No. 6 singles over Bradwin Williams.
The key for Arkansas this season has been doubles. The Razorbacks are 0-6 when they fail to secure the doubles point and are 6-0 when they take a 1-0 lead into singles play. Coming off a loss in Tulsa, Okla. against Oklahoma State where they lost at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles and were on serve on Court 2 when play was called, the Hogs will be working hard against Kentucky and Vanderbilt to clinch the lead going into singles.
First serve on Friday at Kentucky is set for 1 p.m. at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex and play will kick off at 3 p.m. on Sunday against Vanderbilt at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center.
For updated results and for complete coverage of Razorback men’s tennis, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.