FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 46 Arkansas women’s tennis team (6-3), opened its conference season in the win column as it earned a 4-3 victory over visiting Ole Miss Friday evening at the Billingsley Tennis Center.
Junior Tatum Rice provided the match-clinching victory from court two in a dramatic fashion, as she battled back for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win. Rice fell in the first set but played with great resilience in sets two and three to secure the Razorbacks their first SEC win of the season.
Playing outdoors for the first time this season, the Hogs saw Ole Miss open the match by securing the doubles points with wins on courts two and three. Midway through doubles, the Razorbacks took the lead with Lauren Alter and Tatum Rice and Thea Rice and Laura Rijkers up on their respective courts 3-2. On court two, Jackie Carr and Martina Zerulo trailed 2-4 but ultimately dropped a 6-3 result to Anna Vrbenska and Tereza Jenatova. Alter and Rice mounted a late rally in their bout, but could not come all the way back, dropping their match to Alexa Bortles and Sabina Machalova 6-4. Thea Rice and Laura Rijkers on court three saw their match go unfinished.
Freshman Kelly Keller opened the singles score with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win over Kelsey Mize on court five, putting the Hogs on the board. On court four, Lauren Alter put up a fight, but fell in both sets to Anna Vrbenska 6-4, 6-3. Not long after, junior Martina Zerulo rallied to get a 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 53 Machalova in the No. 1 position, to tie it up again 2-2.
Rijkers squared off against Vic de Samucewicz on court six taking the first set 6-1. The sophomore took a quick 2-0 lead before de Samucewicz held serve to get on the board. Rijkers was able to get another break, but the Rebel regrouped and won the second set 6-3. In the third set, Rijkers fought hard and claimed a 6-3 victory to make it 3-2 Hogs.
The Rebels quickly bounced back to make it 3-3 when Bortles knocked off Carr in the No. 3 position with a 6-4, 7-6 win.
With the score deadlocked at three-all, the attention shifted to court two where Tatum Rice battled Janatova. The Razorback lost the first set 6-3 before mounting her comeback, winning the second set in a tiebreak of 7-5. Rice’s mental and physical toughness were on full display as she shook off the early deficit and by the time the third set rolled around, she was in full control, clinching the match with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory for the Hogs.
The Razorbacks’ next match is set for Sunday when they are back on the road to face Texas A&M at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center for their second SEC match of the season. First serve is set for noon.
- Martina Zerulo (ARK) def. #53 Sabina Machalova (OM) 6-0, 6-4
- Tatum Rice (ARK) def. Tereza Janatova (OM) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
- Alexa Bortles (OM) def. Jackie Carr (ARK) 6-4, 7-6
- Anna Vrbenska (OM) def. Lauren Alter (ARK) 6-4, 6-3
- Kelly Keller (ARK) def. Kelsey Mize (OM) 6-2, 6-2
- Laura Rijkers (ARK) def. Vic de Samucewicz (OM) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
- Alexa Bortles/Sabina Machalova (OM) def. #22 Lauren Alter/Tatum Rice (ARK) 6-4
- Anna Vrbenska/Tereza Janatova (OM) def. Jackie Carr/Martina Zerulo (ARK) 6-3
- Laura Rijkers/Thea Rice (ARK) vs. Kelsey Mize/Grace Anne Jones (OM) unfinished
Ole Miss 8-2; National Ranking #24
Arkansas 5-3; National Ranking #46
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,UF); Singles (5,4,1,6,3,2)