Lady'Backs earn first trip to NCAA Tournament since 2001
FAYETTEVILLE – After a week of waiting since the SEC Tournament, the University of Arkansas women’s tennis team received its first invitation to the NCAA tournament since 2001 Wednesday evening. The Lady Razorbacks (10-10) begin tournament play on May 12 against the Texas Longhorns (17-10). The first round match will be on the courts of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas at 3:00 p.m.Mountain West Conference Champion TCU (21-6) and Conference USA Champion Rice (13-12) are slated in the other first-round match in Fort Worth. The two first-round winners will face off in the NCAA regional final slated for Saturday, May 13 in Fort Worth. “It’s exciting to be selected into the NCAA Tournament,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty. “It’s a great part of the draw to be in with such strong programs and I expect that will bring out the best in us.” The tournament selection marks Hegarty’s fifth as a head coach after four straight tournament appearances at Fresno State. Counting appearances as an assistant, he tacks on another five trips to the NCAA Tournament for a total of nine appearances prior to this year. Arkansas earned its way to the national tournament by winning more Southeastern Conference matches this season than the last five years combined. The Lady’Backs upset South Carolina and Alabama, Ole Miss and South Carolina on their way to the 5-6 conference finish. In the SEC, Arkansas is one of eight conference teams to receive an invitation. The Lady’Backs and the Alabama Crimson Tide were the only selections from the Western Division. In Arkansas’ last visit to the tournament in 2001, the Lady’Backs took the first round match against a 36th ranked Miami team, 4-1, but lost in the second round to conference foe Florida, 4-0. For the first round of this year’s tournament, Arkansas drew a sizeable opponent. Texas is the reigning NCAA runner-up from 2005 while also finishing second at the ITA National Indoor Championships last October. “This is more evidence of us making headway towards becoming a nationally competitive program,” Hegarty said. “Our players work very hard and are looking forward to playing more tennis this year.” For more information on Arkansas tennis or any other Lady’Backs sport, please visit LADYBACKS.COM.