May 10, 2009

Courtesy of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Senior Ela Kaluder rose to the occasion in a second-set tiebreaker vaulting the 14th-ranked University of Arkansas women's tennis team into the NCAA Championships, 4-3, past No. 28 TCU Horned Frogs on Sunday.

The Billingsley Tennis Center was buzzing after the win, as the Hogs (15-7) advance to their third ever NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas. Arkansas will play the third overall seed, Duke Blue Devils (25-3), on May 15th at 9 a.m.

"We wouldn't have wanted this match to be anywhere but here at our home facility amongst our committed fans," said Razorback head coach Michael Hegarty.

After claiming the first set, 7-5, Kaluder was down to TCU's Katariina Tuohimaa, 6-5, in the second-set before knotting things up at 6-6 to force the tiebreaker. Trailing 3-1 early in the tiebreaker, Kaluder stormed back to clinch the match, 8-6, in the tiebreaker. She immediately rushed to hug her teammates as the celebration began in front of the Razorback crowd.

"The situation I was in is very hard, but at the same time very good," said Kaluder. "It's nice to be the person to get a big win like this and it feels amazing."

"Ela [Kaluder] has been in this situation several times throughout her career so we felt confident with her being the player that would ultimately decide the fate of our postseason," Hegarty said.

The Horned Frogs (17-11) took early momentum in the second-round match by capturing the doubles point.

Down 1-0 after doubles, senior Aurelija Miseviciute quickly changed that to tie the match after dropping 16th-ranked Nina Much-Soegaard, 6-2, 6-1. Ranked second nationally, Miseviciute's overall record sits at 38-3 in singles for the season.

The Horned Frogs bounced back to retake the lead when No. 90 Macall Harkins defeated No. 77 Anouk Tigu, 6-0, 6-2. Freshman Kate Lukomskaya stepped up to knot the match at 2-2 when she shot past TCU's Gaby Mastromarino, 6-2, 6-3.

Kayla Duncan of TCU overcame Emily Carbone, 6-4, 6-3, to put the Horned Frogs in position to grab the match-clincher.

However, a day after providing the clinching point for the Hogs senior Nanar Airapetian gave Arkansas hope as she soared to a three-set win over Idunn Hertzberg. Airapetian dropped the first-set, 6-4, but cruised in the next two, 6-1, 6-2, for the win and to set up the clincher for Kaluder.

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Singles
1. #2 Aurelija Miseviciute (Ark) def. #16 Nina Munch-Soegaard (TCU), 6-2, 6-1.
2. #90 Macall Harkins (TCU) def. #77 Anouk Tigu (Ark), 6-0, 6-2.
3. Ela Kaluder (Ark) def. Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU), 7-5, 7-6(6)
4. Kayla Duncan (TCU) def. Emily Carbone (Ark), 6-4, 6-3.
5. Nanar Airapetian (Ark) def. Idunn Hertzberg (TCU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
6. Kate Lukomskaya (Ark) def. Gaby Mastromarino (TCU), 6-2, 6-3.

Order of Finish: (1,2,6,4,5,3*)

Doubles
1. #39 Macall Harkins/Anna Sydorska (TCU) def. #20 Nanar Airapetian/Anouk Tigu (Ark), 8-5.
2. #45 Aurelija Miseviciute/Ela Kaluder (Ark) led Katariina Tuohimaa/Kayla Duncan (TCU), 7-5.
3. Nina Munch-Soegaard/Idunn Hertzberg (TCU) def. Emily Carbone/Kate Lukomskaya (Ark), 8-5.

Order of Finish: (3,1*)