Kansas opens Jayhawk Tennis Center and spring play
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Jayhawk Tennis Center at Rock Chalk Park will make its debut Friday, as the Kansas tennis team opens dual play against Saint Louis at 5 p.m.
This match marks the first time the Jayhawks will compete in the $9 million indoor and outdoor facility.
“It’s kind of surreal to talk about it,” said head coach Todd Chapman. “We hope that having a new facility helps from the standpoint of attracting more people to come out and watch. Now that the facility is better, hopefully we’re continuing to put a better product on the court that (the fans) can cheer on and get behind. I know people love to cheer on winners, teams that compete really hard and teams they can enjoy getting behind. We hope to become one of those teams.”
During the fall, Kansas tallied an overall 62-31 singles record while going 30-14 in doubles play. Sophomore Anastasia Rychagova, the 2016 Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year, put up an impressive singles mark to lead the Jayhawks going 13-4. She was closely followed by freshman Maria Toran Ribes’ 12-4 record.
After finishing second in the 2016 Big 12 Conference race, expectations surround the Jayhawks this season, which is a change of pace.
“I’m excited to see how our team responds this year,” said Chapman. “We’re in a completely different position. There’s maybe a little more of a target on us. I’m ready to get out and watch them compete. I got to see a little bit of that in Hawaii, but it’s a completely different vibe, feel and intensity when you’re lined up across the board with your teammates.”
KU and Saint Louis are both in the ITA Central Region, but despite the relatively close proximity of the campuses, the two haven’t faced each other as of late. Kansas leads the all-time series, 8-0, with the last dual-match played in 2008. Rychagova did face Saint Louis’s Verginie Tchakarova in the 2016 ITA Central Regional and won the match, 6-2, 6-1.
Tchakarova, her twin sister, Eleonore Tchakarova, and Aspen Cervin are the three seniors that lead the Billikens.
“I know they had a pretty solid season last year,” said Chapman about Saint Louis. “It’s the beginning of the season and we’re going to be prepared to get somebody’s best shot and we hope that’s what we get.”
In the fall, Saint Louis went 54-25 in singles overall and had a 21-10 doubles record. Eleonore Tchakarova posted a 13-2 singles mark while Verginie Tchakarova went 12-2. The twins teamed up to go 10-3 in doubles play. The Billikens had one dual match in the fall defeating Missouri Baptist, 7-0.
Admission is free, while the first 30 fans in attendance will be given a pre-match private tour of the venue. In addition, pizza will be provided to all fans in attendance while supplies last, as well red and blue poms and team posters.
After the completion of the match, the members of the Jayhawk tennis team and coaches will remain on the courts to host a free youth clinic.
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