Khmelnitckaia crowned singles champion at Big 5 Challenge

FORT WORTH, Texas – Kansas senior Nina Khmelnitckaia won her finals match Sunday, making her one of six singles champions crowned at the Big 5 Challenge. For the weekend, the Moscow, Russia, native compiled an undefeated record of 3-0.

En route to her title, Khmelnitckaia beat Camila Westbrooks of Arizona (6-2, 6-4) in the first round. She notched her second-straight singles victory of the fall with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Taylor Russo from Auburn. In Sunday’s championship round, Khmelnitckaia defeated Georgia’s Lourdes Carle, 6-4, 7-5.
The Jayhawks had two other players, senior Janet Koch and freshman Malkia Ngounoue, compete in the championship singles matches, but neither was able to pull out a victory. Both Koch and Ngounoue compiled 2-1 singles records for the weekend.

KU’s six individuals competing achieved an 13-5 overall record in their first tournament of the fall 2018 season. The Jayhawks matched up with players from Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Georgia, Kansas State and TCU over the four-day event. Meanwhile, Kansas’ doubles teams combined for a 7-2 record at the Big 5 Challenge, having faced teams from Notre Dame, Arizona and Auburn.

Head coach Todd Chapman
On his team’s play overall:
“We had a great weekend of competition. We are leaving the tournament in a better place than where we started, and we learned a lot about our team. We will now take that information and work hard to be prepared for our next event.”

On the play of seniors Nina Khmelnitckaia and Janet Koch:
“Nina and Janet both played at a high level and set truly set a tone for the rest of the team to follow as we continue with the fall season.”


  • Koch and Ngounoue both came up short in their championship matches as Koch was defeated by Georgia’s No. 76-ranked Marta Gonzalez (6-4, 4-6, 1-0[6]) and Ngounoue was beaten by Georgia’s Meg Kowalski (6-0, 6-3).
  • Junior Maria Toran Ribes also went undefeated on the tennis court over the weekend, compiling a 3-0 record, including Sunday’s triumph over Arizona State’s Samantha Alicea (6-3, 6-1) on Sunday in Round 4 of singles play.
  • Sonia Smagina, a freshman from Penza, Russia was 2-1 in her debut as a Jayhawk. Sunday she matched up against Kansas State’s Maria Ponomareva and prevailed, 7-5, 7-5.
  • Fellow freshman Julia Deming went 1-2 at her inaugural collegiate tournament. She beat Taylor Tamblyn of Arizona, 6-4, 7-5, on Friday.

Seniors Khmelnitckaia and Koch begin the pre-qualifying stage at the ITA All-American Championships. Play begins Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, California. 




@KansasTennis The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.