Kansas opens Orlando Invitational with doubles sweep

ORLANDO, Fla. – A total of seven victories between singles and doubles competition helped the No. 16-ranked Kansas tennis team open the spring 2019 season on a high note.  At the Orlando Invitational hosted by, and played at, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus, the Jayhawks swept the Rice Owls in three doubles matches. Five different KU players went on to win their first singles matches of the year against NC State at the Orlando Invitational.
Following the fall 2018 season, Kansas’ had two doubles teams ranked among the top 60 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). Those two tandems were comprised of seniors Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia at No. 5 as well as No. 27’s pairing of senior Anastasia Rychagova and freshman Sonia Smagina. In Orlando Friday, Koch and Smgina paired up and were victorious over Rice’s Linda Huana and Michaela Haet, 6-2. Khmelnitckaia partnered with freshman Plobrung Plipuech and bested Rice’s Victoria Smirnova and Fernanda Astete, 7-6(3).  In the final doubles match of the day, freshman Malkia Ngounoue and junior Maria Toran Ribes defeated Rice’s Priya Niezgoada and Diae El Jardi, 6-3.
In singles play, seven Jayhawks matched up against the Wolfpack of NC State. Kansas’ Plipuech, Ngounoue, Smagina and Julia Deming all began their 2019 seasons with singles wins while Koch, Toran Ribes and Khmelnitckaia fell short of victory. Plipuech defeated Liz Norman, 6-3, 6-2. Jayhawk freshmen Ngounoue, Smagina and Deming triumphed over Bianca Moldovan, 6-4, 6-3; Amanda Rebol, 6-3, 6-3 and Natalia Nikolopoulou, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, respectively. Kansas’ ranked seniors No. 34 Koch and No. 70 Khmelnitckaia were defeated by NC State’s Anna Rogers, 6-0, 6-2 and Adriana Reami, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-7(1). Junior Toran Ribes was bested by the Wolfpack’s Alana Smith 7-6(3), 7-5.
Kansas head coach Todd Chapman
“Friday we learned valuable information about where we are as a team and where each player is with their game. We completed hard as a team and put ourselves in some nice positions. This early in the season, there is always some rust when it comes to match situations, so you have to learn from the information you gather in each match. We look forward to another great opportunity Saturday to learn and get better.”
Koch/Smagina (Kansas) def. Huang/Haet (Rice), 6-2
Khmelnitckaia/Plipuech (Kansas) def. Smirnova/Astete (Rice), 7-6(3)
Ngounoue/Toran Ribes (Kansas) def. Niezgoda/El Jardi, 6-3
Anna Rogers (NC State) def. Koch (Kansas), 6-0, 6-2
Alana Smith (NC State) def. Toran Ribes (Kansas), 7-6(3), 7-5
Adriana Reami (NC State) def. Khmelnitckaia (Kansas), 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-7(1)
Plipuech (Kansas), def. Liz Norman (NC State), 6-3, 6-2
Ngounoue (Kansas) def. Bianca Moldovan (NC State), 6-4, 6-3
Smagina (Kansas) def. Amanda Rebol (NC State), 6-3, 6-3
Deming (Kansas) def. Natalia Nikolopoulou (NC State), 6-3, 2-6, 6-3

A schedule of the remainder of the tournament is below:

Orlando Invitational
USTA National Campus
Orlando, Fla.
Saturday January 12 Noon (CT) Texas Tech vs. Rice (Doubles)
      NC State vs. Kansas (Doubles)
      Followed by NC State vs. Rice (Singles)
      Texas Tech vs. Kansas (Singles)
Sunday January 13 9 a.m. (CT) Texas Tech vs. Kansas (Doubles)
      Rice vs. NC State (Doubles)
      Followed by Rice vs. Kansas (Singles)
      Texas Tech vs. NC State (Singles)

Live scoring and streaming are not be available throughout the duration of this tournament, but updates can be found on the USTA National Campus website, KUAthletics.com and KU tennis’ social media platforms on a daily basis.


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