Kansas netters back at NCAAs; open with Notre Dame
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance ended a 17-year drought for the Kansas tennis program, but head coach Todd Chapman and the Jayhawks didn’t even have to wait 17 months this time around to make their return to postseason action. With its second-straight at-large NCAA Tournament berth, No. 34 Kansas opens the 2017 NCAA Tournament against No. 32 Notre Dame Saturday at 8 a.m., CT in Columbus, Ohio.
This will serve as the 12th all-time meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame holding an 8-3 advantage, including victories in the last four matches. The winner of Saturday’s match will face the winner of No. 2 Ohio State and Buffalo in the second round Sunday at 11 a.m., CT.
“We know (Notre Dame) is a quality team and is a program that has been in the tournament every single year over the last 20 years,” Chapman said. “They are a program that has made deep runs and several Final Fours. We know they will be a quality opponent that is very well coached. It is definitely going to be a tough task, but we believe we are up for the challenge.”
Notre Dame is making its 22nd-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The two schools did face one another at the Notre Dame Fall Invitational back in November. The Jayhawks took the weekend against the Fighting Irish posting a 4-2 singles mark and a 2-1 record in doubles.
“I think it does (help that we faced Notre Dame in the fall),” Chapman said. “It helps from the mindset that the players know what level (of competition) to expect and maybe even some of the styles of the players they have on their team. But it is the same thing for Notre Dame. They have seen us play as well. Most players take comfort in knowing their opponent a little bit.”
The Jayhawks will be led by their nationally-ranked singles player sophomore Anastasia Rychagova and doubles team of senior Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum and sophomore Nina Khmelnitckaia. Ranked No. 77 in singles and fresh off of being named to the 2017 All-Big 12 Singles First Team for the second-straight season, Rychagova owns an impressive 24-8 overall mark, including 13-4 in spring play.
On the doubles court, 2017 Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Bernard-Feigenbaum and Khmelnitckaia are currently the No. 37-ranked doubles team in the nation. The pair which earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors has tallied a 21-10 overall mark, including a 15-7 spring record.
The matches during the NCAA Tournament shall be regulation dual matches. Three doubles matches consisting of six-game sets will be played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point; played the best of three sets. No-ad scoring will be used and a seven-point tiebreaker (first to seven points, must win by two points) will be played at six-games-all. The team winning four or more team points advances in the championship bracket.
During the championships, all matches will be stopped after the doubles point is decided. All remaining individual matches will be stopped once a team winner (four points won) has been determined. The score will only reflect completed matches.
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