68th-Ranked Kansas to Take on Iowa State in First Round of Big 12 Championships

April 22, 2008

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Big 12 Championships Bracket

Big 12 Championship Central

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Coming off a pair of impressive victories last weekend that secured a fifth-place finish in the regular-season conference standings, the University Kansas will face 12th-seeded IowaState in the first round of the Big 12 Championships in College Station, Texas on Thursday. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

KU, ranked 68th in the latest ITA national poll after home wins over Nebraska and IowaState, enters the tournament with a record of 9-12. The Jayhawks finished 5-6 in the league, earning the No. 5 seed by virtue of head-to-head victories over the Huskers and OklahomaState. It marks the program’s best finish in the regular season Big 12 standings since the 2001-02 squad placed third with a 9-2 mark.

The Jayhawks’ final week of the regular season produced a slew of headlines. Most notably, senior Elizaveta Avdeeva picked up two doubles victories with teammate Edina Horvath in the No. 1 position, giving the Obninsk, Russia, native 23 career Big 12 wins, most in school history. Avdeeva passed former Jayhawk Julia Sidorova, who had occupied the top spot with 22.

Another highlight was senior Lauren Hommell’s performance in KU’s 4-3 victory over NU. As she did in Kansas’ wins over Kansas State, New Mexico and Oklahoma earlier this season, Hommell broke a 3-3 with a victory in the No. 6 singles match to clinch the dual for the Jayhawks. The Roswell, Ga., native came back after dropping the first set to Nebraska’s Maria Ring to dominate the next two sets en route to the clinching win.

Leading KU this season in singles play has been Horvath, who recorded a team-leading 11 wins in dual play while competing mostly in the No. 3 position. Right behind her was Hommell, who finished with 10 victories, including a 7-1 mark in the No. 6 slot.

All-Big 12 selections a year ago, Avdeeva and Horvath again made up Kansas’ top doubles tandem. The pair, despite a rough stretch late in the season, finished with a record of 13-8, marking KU’s highest win total.

The Jayhawks will be facing IowaState for the second time in less than a week when the two teams take the courts at 10 a.m. on Thursday. KU holds an incredible 32-1 all-time series lead over the Cyclones, including 29-consecutive wins. ISU finished the regular season with a record of 4-14, 0-11.

In last season’s Big 12 Championships, which were hosted by KU at the PlazaTennisCenter in Kansas City, the Jayhawks dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to Oklahoma in the first round. Kansas’ last victory in the event came in 2006, when now-senior Stephanie Smith led KU to a 4-3 win over Colorado. KU has not faced the Cyclones in the event since 2000, a 5-0 first-round victory for the Jayhawks.

The winner of Thursday’s dual will go on to face Colorado in the quartefinals on Friday. Baylor is the Championships’ top seed after completing a perfect 11-0 conference season.