RCW: Sport Spotlight 4.5 (Tennis)
— Kansas Tennis (@KansasTennis) September 23, 2017
The Kansas tennis team kicked off its 2017-18 season at the Rice Invitational in Houston, Texas from September 22 to 25. Five Jayhawks made the trip, including junior Janet Koch, sophomores Tatiana Nikolaeva and Maria Toran Ribes, redshirt freshman Amber Policare and true freshman Carla Pons Martorell.
“I believe the we can take a lot from our first tournament of the season at Rice,” said head coach Todd Chapman. “It spotlighted some things that we are doing well and have improved upon, and it also spotlighted areas we need to address and learn from.”
Koch defeated three-straight opponents to be named the champion of Flight 1 Singles. Friday she began the tournament by topping Michaela Haet of Rice, 6-4, 6-2. Saturday she battled out a three-set win over Alabama’s Andie Danielle, 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1). Playing in the finals Sunday, Koch downed Tsveta Dimitrova from Houston, 6-4, 6-0.
“I thought Janet’s play all weekend in singles was at a very high level and she was very consistent in her approach to her matches,” said Chapmnan. “I really believe this is a great opportunity for her to use this tournament to gain a great deal of confidence in her play and the level of player she can be.”
Toran Ribes, who played in Flight 2 Singles, defeated players from Oklahoma and SMU to earn a spot in the finals, but ultimately fell to Rice’s Wendy Zhang, 6-1, 7-6. Nikolaeva and Policare also had two wins to make it to the finals of Flight 3 Doubles, but couldn’t overcome Priya Niezgoda and Sofie Moenster of Rice, dropping the match, 7-5.
In her first outing as a Jayhawk, Pons Martorell earned a win against UT-San Antonio’s Kylee Kato, 6-2, 6-1, in Flight 7 Singles. She also earned a pair of doubles wins with partner Haruka Sasaki of North Texas.
“I think it was a good opportunity for us to see where we are, competing for the first time this fall,” said Koch. “We were pushed in some areas and for sure saw a lot of improvement. I think we gained a lot of confidence this weekend. (We are) Ready to get back to work.”
Next up, the Jayhawks will compete in the ITA Central Regional, which Kansas will host at the Jayhawk Tennis Center in Lawrence, Kansas from October 19 to October 23.