Five Jayhawks reach ITA Regional quarterfinals

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Kansas tennis team continued its high level of play against quality competition at the ITA Regional Championships Sunday. After three days, KU has advanced four singles players and one doubles team into the quarterfinals at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex.
In doubles play, freshmen Malkia Ngounoue and Sonia Smagina advanced past Arkansas’ Jackie Carr and Shwetha Prabakar, 8-3, to reach the quarterfinal of the main doubles bracket. The Jayhawks’ pair of Maria Toran Ribes and Julia Deming fell short of reaching the quarterfinals as Minnesota’s Tiffany Huber and Caitlyn Merzbacher bested them, 8-7 (2).
Four Jayhawks: Toran Ribes, Smagina, as well as seniors Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, all advanced to the singles quarterfinals in the main bracket of the tournament. Toran Ribes bested Oklahoma State’s Catherine Gulihar, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 and then Minnesota’s Tiffany Huber, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals. Smagina defeated host Iowa’s Michelle Barcalla, 6-2, 6-2 as well as Big 12 Conference rival Margot Decker of Kansas State, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. Koch triumphed over Mackenzy Middlebrooks (Missouri), 6-4, 7-6 (4) and Maria Linares (K-Sate), 6-1, 6-4 on her way to the quarterfinals. Khmelnitckaia also won two matches Sunday to advance to the next round of play, as she beat Maria Ponomareva from Kansas State, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and Shura Poppe of Tulsa, 6-1, 6-4.
Kansas freshman Deming battled, but was ultimately knocked out of the regional by Oklahoma State’s Lisa Marie Rioux by scores of 6-4, 6-0. Sophomore Plobrung Plipuech won her second-career match as a Jayhawk over Tulsa’s Martha Matoula, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 before falling to Iowa State’s Maty Cancini, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to end her run in Iowa City. After reaching the doubles quarterfinal with her partner, Smagina, KU freshman Ngounoue was unable to do the same in singles play, as she was defeated by Oklahoma State’s Sofia Blanco, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Live stats and video streaming are available for the ITA Regional Championships throughout the tournament. To keep up with the Jayhawks, please click here.
Kansas head coach Todd Chapman
On the team’s performance on day three at the ITA Regional Championships:
“Sunday was another great day of competition. We had a lot of close battles against quality opponents. We are excited to have four of the final eight singles players left in the tournament and one doubles team in the final eight as well. Monday will be another mental and physical test for the team and we look forward to the opportunity.”

Huber/Merzbacher (Minnesota) def. Toran Ribes/Deming (Kansas), 8-7 (2)
Ngounoue/Smagina (Kansas) def. Carr/Prabakar (Arkansas), 8-3
Toran Ribes (Kansas) def. Gulihar (Oklahoma State), 1-6, 6-4, 6-1
Rioux (Oklahoma State) def. Deming (Kansas), 6-4, 6-0
Blanco (Oklahoma State) def. Ngounoue (Kansas), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4
Smagina (Kansas) def. Bacalla (Iowa), 6-2, 6-2
Plipuech (Kansas) def. Matoula (Tulsa), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Koch (Kansas) def. Middlebrooks (Missouri), 6-4, 7-6 (4)
Khmelnitckaia (Kansas) def. Ponomareva (K-State), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Toran Ribes (Kansas) def. Huber (Minnesota), 1-6, 6-4, 6-1
Smagina (Kansas) def. Decker (K-State), 6-2, 5-7, 7-5
Cancini (Iowa State) def. Plipuech (Kansas), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Koch (Kansas) def. Linares (K-Sate), 6-1, 6-4
Khmelnitckaia (Kansas) def. Poppe (Tulsa), 6-1, 6-4
Competition in both singles and doubles main draw brackets will continue Monday morning at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex in Iowa City. The doubles quarter and semifinals will both take place Monday as will the quarterfinals of the singles bracket. Action from Iowa City is set to begin at 9 a.m.
KU’s freshman double tandem of Ngounoue and Smagina will battle conference opponents in Oklahoma’s Jasmine Asghar and Ivana Corley.

In the singles bracket, Jayhawks Toran Ribes and Smagina will face off against each other with an opportunity to advance to the next round of the tournament on the line. Seniors Koch and Khmelnitckaia are set to take to the court against familiar foes from the Big 12 Conference in Oklahoma State’s Lisa Marie Rioux and Iowa State’s Maty Cancini, respectively.

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