Heartbreak hits KU netters once again at NCAAs

Nina Khmelnitckaia was down 3-0 in the third set, before coming back to win 6-3.

No. 32 Notre Dame 4, No. 34 Kansas 3
Varsity Outdoor Tennis Center
Columbus, Ohio

May 13, 2017


No. 1 #37 Bernard-Feigenbaum/Khmelnitckaia (KU) vs. Closs/Robinson (ND) 5-4 DNF
No. 2 Broda/Miller (ND) def. Koch/Rychagova (KU), 6-3
No. 3 Fennelly/Spence (ND) win by forfeit

Order of Finish: 3, 2


No. 1 #77 Rychagova (KU) def. #101 Robinson (ND) 6-0, 6-4
No. 2 Broda (ND) def. Bernard-Feigenbaum (KU) 7-5, 6-4
No. 3 Miller (ND) def. Koch (KU) 7-5, 1-6, 7-5
No. 4 Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Spence (ND) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
No. 5 Nikolaeva (KU) def. Closs (ND) 7-5, 6-3
No. 6 Chong (ND) wins by forfeit

Order of Finish: 6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 3
 Stats Box Score (.PDF)

 COLUMBUS, Ohio – The shorthanded No. 34-ranked Kansas tennis team went toe-to-toe Saturday with No. 32-ranked Notre Dame for three hours and six minutes in an NCAA Tournament first-round match at the Varsity Outdoor Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State. Ultimately, the Jayhawks fell on the wrong side of a decisive 12th game in the third set of the No. 3 singles match, resulting in a second-straight 4-3 NCAA first-round loss.
With the match tied, 3-3, KU sophomore Janet Koch and Notre Dame’s Allison Miller were also knotted, 5-5, in the third set to decide the winner at No. 3 singles and overall match. Miller won the deuce point in both the 10th and 11th games of the set, before ending the match with a 7-5 third-set win in a near mirror image of the first set between the two. In set one, Koch led 5-4 before Miller rattled off three-straight games for the set win. Koch had little trouble with Miller in the second set, winning 6-1. In the third set, Koch led 4-1 before Miller ended the match by winning six of the final seven games.
“Two years in a row now we have had dual-match point to win the overall match and lost,” head coach Todd Chapman said. “We are disappointed. I think it is a different feeling this year, from the standpoint that we came to Columbus with the mindset to win. We put ourselves in position to do that and just didn’t capitalize.”
For the ninth-straight match, the Jayhawks were limited with five available players due to an injury to freshman Maria Toran Ribes. As a result, Notre Dame needed to win only one of the two played doubles matches to take the doubles point and a 2-0 lead with the Kansas forfeit at No. 2 doubles and No. 6 singles.
The Irish did just that as the tandem of Brooke Broda and Miller downed KU’s No. 2 doubles team of Anastasia Rychagova and Koch, 6-3. Both teams held serve in the match through the first five games, as Notre Dame led, 3-2. The Irish broke serve in the sixth game and then won three of the last four games to take the match and doubles point.
“I don’t think we played doubles the way we needed to,” Chapman said. “When you are shorthanded if you lose the doubles point you are down, 2-0. It is a tough situation and a tough hole to put yourself in.”
Despite being down 2-0 on the scoreboard, the Jayhawks never quit. No. 77 ranked Rychagova cruised through her first set, 6-0, at the No. 1 position against No. 101-ranked Monica Robinson. The second set proved to be more of a challenge, but Rychagova was able to put the Jayhawks on the board with a 6-4 second-set win.
The Jayhawks tied the match, 2-2, after freshman Tatiana Nikolaeva, who played up in the lineup due to the Toran Ribes injury, beat Mary Closs, 7-5, 6-3 at the No. 5 spot. Nikolaeva and Closs were tied, 5-5, in the first set, but the Kansas freshman gutted out back-to-back games to take the set.
“I think we did a good job in the singles competing,” Chapman said. “We came out and put ourselves in good positions on all five courts. We had chances to take first sets on all five courts, but we won three and lost two. We definitely played hard and competed well. It is tough (to lose like that).”
Notre Dame regained its momentum as Broda squeaked out a 7-5, 6-4 win over the 2017 Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum at No. 2 singles. Bernard-Feigenbaum led the first set, 5-4, before dropping three-straight games. In the second set, tied 4-4, Broda won deuce point in the ninth game and finished the match with a 10th-game win as well.
With sophomore Nina Khmelnitckaia down 3-0 in the third set against Notre Dame’s Zoe Spence at No. 4 singles it appeared as though the Jayhawks were heading to a 4-2 overall defeat. Khmelnitckaia had different plans and notched six-straight game victories to win the match, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, and tie the dual match, 3-3.
The loss ends Kansas’ team season, as the Jayhawks finished with a 13-10 overall record. Notre Dame (18-9) advances to face No. 2-ranked Ohio State in the second round Sunday.
Khmelnitckaia and Bernard-Feigenbaum, the nation’s No. 37 doubles team, will represent Kansas at the 2017 NCAA Doubles Championship May 24-29 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia.
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