Jayhawks Fall to Oklahoma State, 4-0, on Senior Day

#14 Oklahoma State 4, #33 Kansas 0
Jayhawk Tennis Center
April 24, 2016
No. 1 –  Maria Alvarez/Kelsey Laurente (OSU) def. Nina Khmelnitckaia/Janet Koch (KU) 6-3
No. 2 – Maria Jose Cardona/Anastasiya Rychagova (KU) def. Viktoriya Lushkova/Carla Tur Mari (OSU) 6-3
No. 3 – Katarina Adamovic/Vladica Babic (OSU)  win by forfeit
Order of Finish: 3,2,1
No. 1 – Anastasiya Rychagova (KU) vs. Katarina Adamovic (OSU) 6-7 (8), 4-1 unfinished
No. 2 – Vladica Babic (OSU) def. Smith Hinton (KU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 3 – Viktoriya Lushkova (OSU) def. Janet Koch (KU) 7-6 (3), 6-3
No. 4 – Nina Khmelnitckaia (KU) vs. Kelsey Laurente (OSU) 6-3, 2-6, 2-4 unfinished
No. 5 – Maria Jose Cardona (KU) vs. Carla Tur Mari (OSU) unfinished
No. 6 – Maria Alvarez (OSU) win by forfeit
Order of Finish: 6,2,3

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas women’s tennis was unable to overcome a shorthanded lineup against the 2016 Big 12 Conference Champions, Oklahoma State, as the Jayhawks fell in their regular-season finale, 4-0, to the 14th-ranked Cowgirls on Senior Day. Despite the loss, No. 33-rated KU finished in a five-way tie for second place in the Big 12 standings, its highest finish since also ending the season in second place in the league standings in 1998. 

“I thought we fought extremely hard against a great team today,” said Kansas head coach Todd Chapman. “It was obviously an emotional senior day and playing a player down, I thought we did incredibly well in terms of competitiveness. We tied for second in the Big 12 Conference. We knew that if we won today we’d be outright in second place, but it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve even tied for second in the conference, so this group has done incredibly well. We’re going to try to peak at the right time and compete in Stillwater (Oklahoma) next week to give ourselves a chance in the NCAA’s.”

Kansas was handicapped by a short lineup due to illness and opened doubles play by forfeiting court three. Pairing up for the first time this spring, freshman Anastasiya Rychagova and senior Maria Jose Cardona made the most of their first match together, topping Oklahoma State’s nationally-ranked tandem of Viktoriya Lushkova and Carla Tur Mari, 6-3, on court two. Lushkova and Tur Mari entered the match rated No. 50 in the ITA doubles rankings.

With the doubles knotted at 1-1, OSU’s Maria Alvarez and Kelsey Laurente bested KU’s freshman duo of Nina Khmelnitckaia and Janet Koch, 6-3, on court one. Alvarez and Laurente, who are ranked No. 40 in the ITA doubles rankings, secured the doubles point for the Cowgirls with the win. 

Kansas opened singles play down 2-0 in the match as they were forced to forfeit on court six. Despite being down in the match and healthy players, KU made it a battle versus the 2016 Big 12 Champion Cowgirls. Sophomore Smith Hinton was in a back-and-forth match with OSU’s Vladica Babic, who is currently ranked No. 44 in the ITA singles rankings. Hinton held a lead in both sets, but dropped the match to Babic, 6-4, 6-4, on court two. 

Koch took a quick 3-0 lead over Oklahoma State’s Lushkova, who is ranked No. 63 in the ITA singles rankings, but was unable to hold off the veteran as she fell 7-6 (3), 6-3, on court three. Hinton and Koch’s losses were the only points in singles play the Cowgirls needed to pick up the 4-0 win. 

After dropping the first set to OSU’s Katarina Adamovic, 7-6 (8), Rychagova had taken control of the second set and was leading 4-1 on court one when the match was ended. Additionally, Khmelnitckaia took the first set against OSU’s Laurente on court four, 6-3. Laurente fought back for a 6-2 win in the second set and was leading 4-2 over Khmelnitckaia when OSU claimed the match. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of the five players who competed today,” said Chapman, who is in his third season at the helm of the KU program. “We gave ourselves a chance, but Oklahoma State is one of the best doubles teams in the country. We put Maria and Anastasiya together for the first time today and they went out there and beat a nationally-ranked team and did it very well. I thought it was unbelievable. We just missed some opportunities in singles play and we give credit to Oklahoma State, because they came up with some really good tennis to beat us. As a coach, I can live with getting beat when we played our hearts out–and we did. I was very proud of how we competed.”

Kansas honored its lone senior, Cardona, following the match. Cardona is in the midst of her top season as a Jayhawk as she has posted a 14-3 mark in singles and has combined with her KU teammates for an 11-2 mark in doubles play. She was named Big 12 Player of the Week on March 23 after helping KU clinch its first-ever win over Texas. In addition, she is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree. 

Kansas will head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the 2016 Big 12 Championship. Tournament play will begin on Thursday, April 28, with the Jayhawks set to compete in their first match on Friday, April 29. A complete bracket and more details for the 2016 Big 12 Championship will be announced later Sunday. 

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