FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After getting a well-deserved week off, the 12th-ranked Razorback women’s tennis team will return to the courts this weekend as they continue SEC competition against No. 21 Tennessee and No. 7 Georgia.
Arkansas (13-4, 3-1 SEC) rides a two match winning streak into the weekend and is also holding its highest national ranking since the 2008 season. Last week, the Razorbacks were ranked No. 13, but even with a week off they continued to rise and now sit at No. 12 in the nation. Since the spring season began, the Hogs have jumped 10 total spots.
Recapping the team’s last two matches, the Razorbacks faced Mississippi State and Ole Miss on the road and got solid performances throughout both matches, winning 7-0 and 6-1, respectively. With those two wins, the Hogs now hold the second best record in the conference, behind only Florida, who is 15-1 on the year.
“It was a really good road swing for us,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty. “Doubles was a real high point for us both times. It gave us a catalyst into the singles, which came out well both times also. Those wins put us at 3-1 in the conference. But this past weekend was our first weekend since before classes started that we haven’t had any matches, so it was a good freshening week for us, plus we’ve trained well, we’re surprisingly healthy for this point in the season and now we’ve got a good seven match stretch before postseason to try to get where we want to be entering postseason.”
This weekend, the Razorbacks will face off against the Lady Volunteers from Tennessee first on Friday on their home courts at the Billingsley Tennis Center. Tennessee comes into this weekend with an 11-4 record overall and a perfect 3-0 record in conference play. Fresh off a 7-0 shutout of Ohio State last week, the Lady Vols are led by two nationally ranked singles players, Natalie Pluskota (#42) and Brynn Boren (#36), as well as Millie Nichols, who has 21 wins this season as a freshman.
After Friday, the Hogs will then hit the road to Athens, Ga to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday. Like Tennessee, Georgia has a solid record this season, 10-1 and 4-0 in SEC play. The Bulldogs also take an eight-match winning streak into the weekend, but will put that streak to the test against LSU on Friday. Georgia also brings in the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, Kate Fuller, who went a combined 4-0 in singles and doubles in a couple of non-conference matches against Butler and Yale. As for the rest of the team, Georgia has five players ranked among the ITA top 125 which includes Chelsey Gullickson (#37), Nadja Gilchrist (#60), Cameron Ellis (#76), Maho Kowase (#84), and Lilly Kimbell (#120).
“These are two very great teams,” said Hegarty. “We always have great matches with them and have had some really close matches with them recently. We’re just looking for two great matches. Tennessee at home on Friday is going to be a really tough match, so we’re just trying to take another step forward as postseason is just four weeks away.”
Friday’s match against Tennessee is slated to start promptly at noon in Fayetteville at the Billingsley Tennis Center, while Sunday’s match with Georgia has first serve set for noon also. Full recaps of both matches as well as the live blog and live stats for the match against Tennessee will be available this weekend on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.