Six Jayhawks earn All-Big 12 honors; Chapman named Coach of the Year
IRVING, Texas – After a stellar spring season, which has resulted in a 19-4 overall record and the Big 12 Conference Championship title, the Kansas tennis team and staff have been recognized across the board by the conference office with its postseason accolades.
Six Jayhawks earned All-Big 12 honors, and head coach Todd Chapman was voted Big 12 Coach of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday afternoon.
Seniors Nina Khmelnitckaia, Janet Koch and Anastasia Rychagova, junior Maria Toran Ribes, and freshmen Sonia Smagina and Malkia Ngounoue were each awarded postseason Big 12 accolades.
“It is fantastic to have six players make the All-Big 12 Teams,” Chapman said. “I think being this well represented is a testament to the season we had and the respect our players have garnered from the other coaches in our conference. As far as the Coach of the Year award, I look at this as a team award. No coach is honored with this award without their team having a great year and without being assisted by a great coach. We believe we have the best assistant coach in the country and without the unbelievable job Caroline (Lilley) has done with our team, an award like this would not be possible.”
Rychagova was named to the All-Big 12 Singles First Team. This marks the fourth-consecutive year Rychagova, ranked No. 17 in the nation, has been named to the all-conference team – the first time in Kansas history a player has accomplished that feat. Rychagova has notched a singles record of 17-2 this spring, including a 9-2 record against nationally ranked opponents at the No. 1 position. Overall in 2018-19 she is 19-3, 10-3 against ranked opponents.
Also in singles, Khmelnitckaia, Smagina and Toran Ribes were named All-Big 12 Singles Second Team. Khmelnitckaia, who played in three different positions during the duration of the spring season, finished with a 16-6 overall record, including a seven-match winning streak.
Smagina has played in four different spots in the Kansas singles lineup this season, notching an overall record of 16-3.
Toran Ribes, who, like Khmelnitckaia, has played in three different positions this spring, has attained a 15-5 singles record. After clinching both the semifinal and final matches for the Jayhawks with her singles victories at the Big 12 Championship, the junior was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
The 2018-19 Jayhawks set another program milestone with all three doubles teams garnering league honors. KU placed two doubles teams on the All-Big 12 First Team. Khmelnitckaia and Koch, currently ranked No. 3 in the nation, have attained a 16-1 record at the No. 1 doubles position, including an 8-0 record against ranked opponents. Rychagova and Smagina, the No. 85-ranked doubles tandem in the nation, were also named to the first team after netting a 15-3 record this spring. This marks the first time Khmelnitckaia, Koch, Rychagova and Smagina have been named to the All-Big 12 Doubles First Team.
Toran Ribes and her doubles partner, Ngounoue, were named to the All-Big 12 Doubles Second Team. This spring the duo has compiled a record of 14-3 playing at the No. 3 doubles position.
Additionally, Smagina was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
In his sixth season at the helm of Kansas tennis, Chapman has helped turn the program around since his arrival in Lawrence, compiling an overall record of 86-58. In his first two seasons at KU, Chapman helped his teams steadily climb the conference standings. By year three, the team had a winning record (17-8) and tied for second in the conference regular-season standings. After a 17-year absence from the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks earned an NCAA berth in 2016, and this weekend the team will make its fourth-consecutive NCAA appearance; KU will host NCAA Tournament action for the first time since 1997 when it hosts the First and Second Rounds Friday and Saturday at the Jayhawk Tennis Center at Rock Chalk Park.
“(There is) No way we could have accomplished all of this without our coaches. They care so much,” Rychagova said about Chapman and assistant head coach Caroline Lilley after the NCAA Selection Show.
No. 14 Kansas tennis, the overall No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will face off against No. 44-ranked Denver in the first round Friday, May 3 at 1 p.m., at the Jayhawk Tennis Center at Rock Chalk Park.