No. 14 Kansas tennis season comes to an end with 4-3 Sweet 16 loss at Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. – No. 14-ranked Kansas tennis’ season came to an end in the NCAA Super Regionals Friday afternoon with a closely contested 4-3 loss to defending national champion and No. 3-ranked Stanford at the Taube Family Tennis Center.

Stanford, now 25-1, returned its entire lineup from last year and entered the match riding a 19-match winning streak. Fifteen of its victories this year were by shutout. But the Jayhawks, champions of the Big 12 Tournament, were not intimidated.

Kansas’ Maria Toran Ribes and Malkia Ngounoue started the doubles competition with a victory over No. 57-ranked Melissa Lord and Niluka Madurawe, 6-3, at No. 3 doubles. At No. 2 doubles, the Jayhawks’ No. 64-ranked Anastasia Rychagova and Sonia Smagina fell short to the Cardinal’s No. 29-ranked Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon, 6-2.

KU’s No. 6-ranked duo of Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia then clinched the doubles point on court 1, beating No. 19-ranked Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl, 6-2.

Kansas, which finishes the season 21-5, won the doubles point in 25 out of 26 dual matches this season, including the last 14-straight.

Kansas sophomore Plobrung Plipuech was the first to finish in singles, falling to No. 66-ranked Caroline Lampl at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-3, tying the score at 1-1.

Then on court 2, No. 28-ranked Lord of Stanford bested the Jayhawks’ No. 112-ranked Koch, 6-2, 7-5, giving Stanford a 2-1 lead.

KU junior Toran Ribes evened the team score at 2-2, defeating Mudurawe, 7-5, 6-4.

After claiming the first set on court 4, Smagina was bested by No. 44 Arbuthnott, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, regaining the lead for Stanford.

But senior Rychagova, currently ranked No. 13 in the country, tied the team score at 3-3, coming back for a gutty 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over No. 24-ranked Gordon at No. 1 singles.

In the longest match of the afternoon, No. 108-ranked Janice Shin overcame a first-set loss to overtake Khmelnitckaia, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, giving the Cardinal the match.

Kansas Jayhawks

No. 3 Stanford 4, No. 14 Kansas 3

1) No. 6 Khmelnitckaia/Koch (KAN) d. No. 19 Lampl/Yee (STAN) 6-2
2) No. 29 Arbuthnott/Gordon (STAN) d. No. 64 Rychagova/Smagina (KAN) 6-2
3) Ngounoue/Toran Ribes (KAN) d. No. 57 Lord/Madurawe (STAN) 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1

1) No. 13 Anastasia Rychagova (KAN) d. No. 24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
2) No. 29 Melissa Lord (STAN) d. No. 112 Janet Koch (KAN) 6-2, 7-5
3) No. 66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) d. Plobrung Plipuech (KAN) 6-3, 6-3
4) No. 44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) d. Sonia Smagina (KAN) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
5) No. 108 Janice Shin (STAN) d. Nina Khmelnitckaia (KAN) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
6) Maria Toran Ribes (KAN) d. Niluka Madurawe (STAN) 7-5, 6-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 6, 4, 1, 5

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas head coach Todd Chapman
On the overall match:
“I thought we came out and played really well in doubles at No. 1 and 3 in really just playing our style of doubles as we have been doing all year. It was great to gain the early momentum as it allowed us to settle in a little bit.

“In singles, it was a battle – an up and down, roller coaster-style match on both sides. There were leads shifting up and down on both sides with players fighting back. We played ourselves into great positions against arguably the best team in the country, the reigning National Champions. We just came up a little short in the end.

“That is the part that stings, and it is going to sting when you are this close. I am proud of our fight, I am proud of our effort, I am surely proud of this senior class and these young players we have on this team. I think people now know who Kansas tennis is, but it definitely does not take the sting away when you lose a tough, hard-fought battle.

Credit to Stanford, I thought they played very tough tennis down the stretch and made us earn everything. At the end of the day, they came up with a few more shots than we did.”

On the season:
“Hopefully this is the new standard of Kansas tennis. That is what we have been fighting for, that is what our three seniors have been fighting for, is to set a new standard and new legacy of what Kansas tennis is going to be moving forward. Hopefully these young players realize that and know the expectations.

“It has been a great season, a season of accomplishing many things that have not been done in a long time. That is a credit to my staff and credit to these young ladies that gave everything they had. It is just one of those things that unless you win the National Championship, it is never easy because you are going to lose your last match. But I can tell you we went down fighting and we played hard, competed, and we were gritty and tough. We just came up a little short.”

All three Kansas seniors: Khmelnitckaia and her doubles partner, Koch, as well as Rychagova (singles) all received automatic bids to the 2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships. NCAA singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 20-25 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, after the conclusion of the NCAA team championship.