COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The University of Kentucky women's tennis team defeated No. 11-seed Arkansas in the second round of the 2019 Southeastern Conference Championship on Thursday, 4-1. The sixth-seeded Wildcats will advance to the quarterfinals on Friday in an 11 a.m. ET first serve for a rematch against No. 3-seed and defending conference champions in Vanderbilt.
The doubles point came down the last court, and the Razorbacks came out on the successful end. The UK upperclassmen in No. 13 Justina Mikulskyte and Akvile Paražinskaite dropped the first court on a 6-2 outcome, losing to Lauren Alter and Tatum Rice. The Razorback pair was not the same duo that Mikulskyte and Paražinskaite saw in the conference opener in March. The UK doubles team remains 8-0 against nationally-ranked foes, but falls to 13-5 overall.
The Kentucky duo on court No. 2 in Lesedi Jacobs and Anastasia Tkachenko rallied a 6-4 finish, defeating Martina Zerulo and Thea Rice, to even the field. However, making their doubles-team debut, Brianna Tulloch and Alexis Merrill fell on the third court to Miruna Tudor and Jackie Carr, 7-5. The Razorbacks earned the doubles point and the lead ahead of the singles division.
The UK women's tennis team shined in the singles division, collecting four straight singles wins to claim the dual match. Freshman Tiphanie Fiquet defeated Lauren Alter on court No. 3, 7-6 (4), 6-2. It marked just her second win this season on the third court. The rookie moves to 15-6 overall this season.
Then, redshirt-sophomore recorded an upset on the second court, defeating No. 76 Tatum Rice on a 6-4, 6-3 final mark. It was the highest ranked player the Namibia native has defeated this season. In March, she upset then-No. 100 Jayci Goldsmith of Texas A&M.
Moments later, junior Diana Tkachenko clinched the fifth court. The Russia native knocked Razorback Laura Rijkers on a 6-3, 6-3 outcome. D. Tkachenko moves to an impressive 16-4 record in singles this season. Redshirt-junior Paražinskaite lifted UK to success after she carded a 6-3, 7-5 mark over Miruna Tudor on the fourth court.
It was the second time this season that UK defeated Arkansas. The program hosted Arkansas in its conference opener on March 1 and notched a 5-1 outcome over the Razorbacks.
UK advances to the quarterfinals at 10 a.m. on Friday and will meet third-seeded Vanderbilt in the seventh match of the SEC Championship. Kentucky hosted the Commodores on March 29 and lost on a 4-3 final score. The dual match came down to court No. 5 in singles, when D. Tkachenko dropped her match on a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 mark.
Vanderbilt is the eighth-ranked team in the ITA/Oracle National Team Rankings and the two-time defending SEC Champions. The Commodores lead UK in all-time meetings, 19-32.