May 14, 2010

Courtesy of Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 42 Oklahoma women's tennis team concluded its 2010 season Friday, after falling to No. 24 Arkansas, 4-2, in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Championships.

Oklahoma (18-7, 8-5 Big 12) fought from behind to cut Arkansas' lead to 3-2, but the Razorbacks held on to win and will advance to the regional championship Saturday against top-seeded Texas.

"We had a huge turn around today," OU head coach David Mullins said. "When we played Arkansas in February pretty much everyone but Ana-Maria (Constantinescu) was done in two and half hours. Today was almost four and half hours so that is just another example of the improvement that we have made."

The loss ends one of OU's best seasons in program history. The Sooners became only the sixth team in school history to make the NCAA tournament and only the seventh team to reach 18 wins in a season.

"I'm thrilled with our season and I'm really proud of the girls," Mullins said. "I just feel sorry for them that it doesn't last another day."

In doubles, Marie-Pier Huet and Kristina Radan took and early 3-0 lead at the No. 3 position against Arkansas' Claudine Paulson and Stephanie Roy, but Arkansas made a 3-1 run to cut OU's lead to 4-3. Huet and Radan then took four-straight games to clinch OU's only doubles win on the day, beating Paulson and Roy, 8-3.

No. 41-ranked Ana-Maria Constantinescu and Teona Tsertsvadze started doubles with a 3-1 run against Arkansas' Kate Lukomskaya and Kelsey Sundaram at the No. 1 position. Lukomskaya and Sundaram fought to tie the match at 6-6 and eventually topped Constantinescu and Tsertsvadze, 9-7.

Tara Eckel and Maria Kalashnikova fell behind 3-1 early to Arkansas' Anouk Tigu and Valentina Starkova at the No. 2 position. Eckel and Kalashnikova rallied to bring the match to 7-7 before taking their first lead of the day, 8-7. Tigu and Starkova held on to force the tiebreaker and win the match, 9-8 (3), clinching the doubles point for the Razorbacks.

"Looking back, doubles was definitely a key point," Mullins said. "I wasn't sure. I felt like from after we played them earlier in the year, I thought it was going to be an uphill battle to get that many singles points on the board."

Oklahoma vs. Arkansas Photos

Arkansas won the first singles point on the day to take a 2-0 lead over the Sooners. Valentina Starkova of Arkansas topped Eckel at the No. 6 position, 6-0, 6-0.

Huet claimed OU's first dual point on the day to cut Arkansas' lead to 2-1, after beating 125th-ranked Lukomskaya at the No. 2 spot, 6-3, 6-1.

Arkansas' Sundaram brought the Razorbacks' lead to 3-1, after topping OU's Tsertsvadze at the No. 4 spot, 6-4, 6-3.

Radan defeated Arkansas' Roy at the No. 5 position, 6-4, 6-3, to win OU's next dual point, cutting Arkansas' lead to 3-2.

Arkansas' Emily Carbone clinched the win for the Razorbacks, after rallying to defeat OU's Kalashnikova at the No. 3 spot, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The regional championship between No. 16 Texas and No. 24 Arkansas will begin at 2 p.m., at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman. For ticket information and a full schedule, click here.

No. 24 Arkansas 4, No. 42 Oklahoma 2
1. Lukomskaya/Sundaram (ARK) def. No. 41 Constantinescu/Tsertsvadze (OU), 9-7
2. Tigu/Starkova (ARK) def. Eckel/Kalashnikova (OU), 9-8 (3)
3. Huet/Radan (OU) def. Paulson/Roy (ARK), 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2

1. No. 29 Anouk Tigu (ARK) No. 106 Ana-Maria Constantinescu (OU), DNF, UA led 5-7, 6-3, 3-2
2. Marie-Pier Huet (OU) def. No. 125 Kate Lukomskaya (ARK), 6-3, 6-1
3. Emily Carbone (ARK) def. Maria Kalashnikova (OU), 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
4. Kelsey Sundaram (ARK) def. Teona Tsertsvadze (OU), 6-4, 6-3
5. Kristina Radan (OU) def. Stephanie Roy (ARK), 6-4, 6-3
6. Valentina Starkova (ARK) def. Tara Eckel (OU), 6-0, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 5, 3*