Missouri tennis dropped to 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference with a loss against Arkansas on Friday, but things almost turned out very differently for the Tigers.
The Razorbacks were in complete control early on in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as they took care of the doubles point with straightforward victories over Serena Nash and Taylor Gruber (6-2), and over Marta Oliveira and Lisa Fukutoku (6-1).
Nash was then defeated in singles by No. 98 Tatum Rice 6-1, 6-1, and Vivien Ábrahám was downed 6-2, 7-5. Missouri found itself down 3-0 and in danger of being shut out for the third time this season.
But the Tigers dug in and tried to mount a comeback. Ellie Wright beat Lauren Alter 6-2, 7-6, and Gruber defeated Jackie Carr 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. Missouri was back in the match, but still needed singles victories from both Fukutoku and No. 97 Mackenzy Middlebrooks. Both Tigers lost their first set. Both Tigers were now headed to set three.
Middlebrooks began the third set with a 3-0 deficit to Martina Zerulo, but she won the next three games to tie the match up. Meanwhile, Fukutoku was splitting games back and forth with Laura Rijkers. Fukutoku was ultimately able to stay a step ahead of her opponent and win the match 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, but Middlebrooks wasn’t able to complete the comeback, and she lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, sending Missouri to its fourth consecutive SEC defeat.
The Tigers are now off for a week until they host Texas A&M at 5 p.m. March 22 at the Mizzou Tennis Complex.
Supervising editor is Reed Koutelas.