FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark) – After several close matches, everything came together for Arkansas tennis on Friday as they blazed to a 4-2 victory over No. 15 Florida at the Billingsley Tennis Center, the Razorbacks' first top-15 win since defeating 11th-ranked Virginia in 2006.
Arkansas continued its strong doubles play, notching wins on courts one and two within minutes of each other. No. 71 Hall Fess and Pete Thomason struck first, taking down Diego Hidalgo and Michael Alford 8-3 at the No. 2 doubles position. Seniors Mike Nott and Manfred Jeske, now ranked 31st in the country, were right behind their teammates with a 8-3 victory at the No. 1 doubles position over Gordon Watson and Florent Diep to clinch the doubles point.
The Razorbacks opened singles play with a 1-0 lead over the Gators. Thomason fell on court six and Florida was able to bring the score to one all. Freshman Johan den Toom scored the first singles point for Arkansas, racing to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Florida's Alford on court five. The Gators weren't done, taking the match on court four to bring the score back to an even 2-2.
Arkansas held leads on the remaining four courts and Nott was close to finishing off his opponent on court one. After falling behind in the second set, Nott rallied and found himself in a tiebreaker at 6-6. The first few points flew back and fourth before Nott settled in and sent No. 78 Watson packing with a 7-6 (7-5) decision.
Nott's victory put the Razorbacks up 3-2 with Jeske closing in on a victory of his own, the fourth point that would clinch the victory for Arkansas for a season-defining win. After winning the first set, Jeske dropped the second, forcing a third which would, ultimately, decide the match. Jeske took to the lead at 5-4 and held steady during his last game, powering through to a 6-4 set and a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No. 108 Diep, his third consecutive victory over a ranked opponent.
Arkansas will return to play on Sunday, facing off against South Carolina at 1 p.m. Sunday's match will feature 150 free coozies given to the first fans at the Billingsley Tennis Center.