Jayhawks Advance to Big 12 Semifinals with 4-2 Win Over Baylor

#33 Kansas 4, #39 Baylor 2
Greenwood Tennis Center
April 29, 2016
No. 1 – Anastasiya Rychagova (KU) def. Blair Shankle (BU) 7-6 (4), 6-4
No. 2 – Smith Hinton (KU) def. Kiah Generette (BU) 7-5, 7-6 (4)
No. 3 – Janet Koch (KU) def. Rhiann Newborn 6-4, 6-4
No. 4 –  Nina Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Karina Traxler (BU) 6-2, 6-0
No. 5 – Theresa Van Zyl (BU) def. Maria Jose Cardona (KU) 6-3, 6-1
No. 6 – Gabriella Ferriera (BU) wins by forfeit
Order of Finish: 6,4,5,3,1,2

STILLWATER, Okla. – Kansas women’s tennis advanced to the Big 12 Conference Championship semifinals for the first time since 2002, after defeating Baylor, 4-2, on Friday afternoon at the Greenwood Tennis Center on the campus of Oklahoma State. Despite playing down a player due to illness, Kansas picked up singles wins on 4-of-5 courts to finish off the Lady Bears without having to compete in doubles play.
“Whether it was playing with five players or having such a long day today we made no excuses and came out and competed at a high level,” said Kansas head coach Todd Chapman. “There is no other team in the country I would rather coach than this group. I could not be more proud. Unbelievable effort today. They played for each other and they enjoyed themselves out there.”
Due to inclement weather in the Stillwater area KU’s schedule was a challenge within itself. Originally scheduled to play at 9 a.m., the Jayhawks were notified at 6 a.m., they would not be playing until the afternoon. After multiple trips to the courts and an outdoor warmup, lightning struck and KU’s match again was moved. This time to the indoor courts and back to 4 p.m.
Despite the logistical challenges, the Jayhawks came out firing on nearly all cylinders as tournament officials determined singles play would take place first in an effort to speed up match play. With Baylor opening the match with a 1-0 lead after a KU forfeit on court six, Kansas went to work. Freshman Nina Khmelnitckaia was the first to finish and evened up the score at 1-1 with her 6-2, 6-0, win over Baylor’s Karia Traxler. Khmelnitckaia’s play on court four was instrumental in forging the KU win.
“I don’t think Nina was happy with how she played the last time we played Baylor,” said Chapman. “She didn’t compete the way she knows she can last time. Her focus today and the way she played point-in and point-out was really good. Being down 1-0 to start the match it was important to get that point early and get the momentum back. She was definitely a catalyst for us today.”
Baylor bounced back with Theresa Van Zyl’s 6-3, 6-1 win KU senior Maria Jose Cardona on court five. Van Zyl’s win pushed the Lady Bears to a 2-1 advantage, but it was short-lived as the Jayhawks closed out the match with three-straight wins.
Kansas freshman Janet Koch picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win over BU’s Rhiann Newborn on court three and fellow freshman Anastasiya Rychagova quickly followed with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Baylor’s Blair Shankle on court one to give KU a 3-2 advantage with one court remaining.
Sophomore Smith Hinton gave the Jayhawks their second-consecutive win over the Lady Bears as she topped BU’s Kiah Generette, 7-5, 7-6 (4). The Jayhawk win also halted a two-match losing streak to the Lady Bears in the Big 12 Championship, as Baylor had ousted KU in each of the last two tournaments. 

Up Next
Kansas will make its first appearance in the Big 12 Conference Championship semifinals since 2002 when it plays top-seeded Oklahoma State Saturday. The Jayhawks and Cowgirls will hit the Greenwood Tennis Center courts at 3 p.m., in a rematch of the regular-season finale that OSU won 4-0.
“We thought we competed well the last time we played them,” said Chapman. “We are excited for another opportunity to play them. We know it’s going to be a great match. It’s a fun atmosphere here. They will have a lot of fans and to me the energy of that should be fun. We have nothing to lose.”

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