Kansas seniors crowned champions
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. and WACO, Texas – For the first time in Kansas women’s tennis history, a doubles team has won the tournament title at the prestigious Riviera ITA All-American Championships. KU’s senior duo of Nina Khmelnitckaia and Janet Koch excelled in their final match at the Riviera Tennis Club Sunday over the Stanford Cardinal’s pair to be named champions.
The Jayhawk duo was victorious in the final over No. 17-ranked Caroline Lampl and Kimberly Yee, 6-3, 6-2. The championship path started off with a win over the No. 18 duo of Ariadna Riley and Kaitlin Staines of Tennessee. In the second round of the tournament, the Jayhawks squared off against the No. 1-seeded team and the preseason No. 3-ranked doubles team of Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott of Stanford. The quarterfinal round marked a historic moment for Kansas tennis as two Jayhawk doubles teams competed, another first for the program. KU’s Anastasia Rychagova and Sonia Smagina won two matches before falling in their quarterfinal match. Khmelnickaia and Koch defeated Arizona State’s No. 8-ranked Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, 8-6, in the quarters. In the semifinal match played Saturday, the two seniors bested No. 14 Wichita State’s Fatima Bizhukova and Marta Bellucco, 6-3, 7-6 (5), to advance to the final, yet another history-making moment for the Jayhawks.
After advancing all the way to the final of the doubles bracket at the H-E-B Invitational as Maria Toran Ribes and Malkia Ngounoue battled, but in the end were ultimately bested by Texas’ Fernanda Labrana and Katie Poluta, 7-6 (2). Their path to the final in Waco, Texas, this weekend began with two victories against doubles teams from Sam Houston State. In their semifinal match, the Jayhawk duo triumphed over Tyler Junior College’s Maria Genovese and Anna Brogan, 6-1.
Assistant coach Caroline Lilley
On Nina and Janet winning the doubles’ title at the Riviera ITA All-American Championships:
“What an effort and an unbelievable tournament! I am really proud of how Janet and Nina played together, through the good and the difficult, and never wavered from their mission of playing aggressive doubles. We have been talking a lot about ‘chopping wood’ and ‘carrying water,’ enjoying the monotony and tedium of daily development as that is buying into a mission rather than just having a goal. I could not be happier for the two of them!”
Head coach Todd ChapmanOn the team’s play at the Riviera ITA All-American Championships:
“Wow, what a week for our team in California!!! I could not be more proud of Nina, Janet, Anastasia and Sonia for how they represented our program at the most prestigious event in college tennis. What Nina and Janet accomplished by winning the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships is such a statement to the work these two young women put into their craft. They worked hard all summer and to see their years of hard work pay off this week is great to see. Winning the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships is harder, in my opinion, than winning and NCAA Individual Championship. What a statement Nina and Janet made for themselves and our program this week. I would also like to thank the best assistant coach in college tennis, Caroline Lilley, for leading our young ladies this week in California. Caroline is such a huge part of where we are as a program and where we are headed. It is a great day to be a Jayhawk! Rock Chalk!”
On the overall play of the team at the H-E-B Invitational:
“This tournament was really good for our players. We were challenged and faced adversity throughout (it) and we leave the tournament in a better place with our play and maturity.”
· Khmelnitckaia and Koch become the first doubles team in school history to be crowned champions of the Riviera ITA All-American Championships.
Riviera ITA All-American Championships
Khmelnitckaia/Koch (Kansas) def. #17 Lampl/Yee (Stanford), 6-3, 6-2
Fernanda Labrana and Katie Poluta (Texas) def. Toran Ribes/Ngounoue (Kansas), 7-6 (2)
The Jayhawks will compete at the ITA Regional Championships in Iowa City, Iowa. Competition place at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex will begin Friday, Oct. 12 and run through Tuesday, Oct. 16.
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