The Razorback women’s tennis team started Friday afternoon at George M. Billingsley Tennis Center with the first doubles point loss of the season, previously holding an 8-0 record.

Sophomores Kimberley -Ann Surin and Brittany Huxley won a doubles upset, but No. 44 ranked Arkansas (5-3, 0-0 SEC) lost 5-2 to No. 24 ranked Oklahoma (6-1, 0-0 Big 12).

“It was a close match from the start to the finish,” head coach Michael Hegarty said. “I was really happy with our effort, and just a few points here and there kept us from getting the victory. Full credit to Oklahoma for earning a hard-fought victory.”

Surin and Huxley’s 8-6 upset over Sooners No. 31 Whitney Richie and Mia Lancaster helped the Razorbacks pull even at 1-1 in the doubles point.

From Surin’s killer ace first serve to the strategic endplay by the Razorbacks, their teamwork and skill were evident. Surin said the communication and execution in Friday’s doubles match demonstrates their hard work in practice and friendship off the court.

“We practice doubles almost everyday,” Surin said. “We are good friends outside of tennis, and that helps too.”

But the Sooners held on and came out victorious in the last game point break as Hermon Brhane and Zita Engbroks came away with an 8-7 (8-6) win over sophomore Yang Pang and freshman Oleksandra Shkorupeieva at No. 3 doubles.

“It’s tennis. I had a chance and I didn’t take it,” Pang said. “In tennis you can’t make any mistakes like that.”

Oklahoma has yet to lose a doubles point this season, improving to 7-0 in gaining an early dual match lead.

“We were 8-0 in doubles and we came really close to beating them. So that is a little bit of an emotional let down when you don’t do it,” Hegarty said.

In singles play, Surin added to her doubles victory with a tough fight but ultimate victory over Morgan Chumney 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in singles at No. 4. Surin said her win was all about focusing on her own game in the third set.

“The third set, I knew I could when against that girl so I wasn’t stressed or anything,” Surin said. “I was just trying to focus on my game instead of her game. I was just in the present and trying not to think of the past or the future.”

Shkorupeieva came back from her earlier doubles loss defeating Abbi Melrose 6-2, 6-2 in the singles No. 6 spot. The freshman from Odessa, Ukraine, improved to 5-2 in singles play this season.

Freshman Shannon Hudson could not get a leg up on the scoreboard against ITA Central Region No. 2 Hermon Brhane and suffered her second loss of the season in singles.  Despite the mental strength and physical effort she displayed during the match, the freshman from Virginia Beach, Va., entered having won two straight matches, but was defeated 6-4, 6-3.

“The most challenging thing was losing the close ones,” Hegarty said. “Oklahoma State beat us handedly here two weeks ago and I think we showed improvements everywhere. Our doubles were better and our toughness was better.”

Arkansas remains home to play their last nonconference matches against No. 30 Purdue at 11 a.m. Sunday at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center.

 

“It is going to be another really hard, difficult match for us and that is exactly what we need as a young team,” Hegarty said. “We are improving all the time. The SEC is the best conference in the country so you can only prepare for that by play good nonconference schedules.

 

The Razorbacks will play their first conference meet against Vanderbilt Feb. 28 in Nashville, Tenn.

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