No. 14 Kansas set to face No. 44 Denver in first round of NCAA Tournament
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas tennis is set to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997 this weekend. The 14th-seeded Jayhawks will face No. 44-ranked Denver in the first round Friday, May 3, at 1 p.m., at the Jayhawk Tennis Center (JTC) at Rock Chalk Park.
Friday’s other first-round match at JTC features No. 24 Florida against No. 42 Boston College. First serve is at 10 a.m. The winners of the two matches will play in the second round Saturday at 1 p.m. All matches will be outdoors unless weather intervenes, in which case they will be moved indoors. The schedule would remain the same.
The Jayhawks (19-4) have been ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) top-20 for 15-straight weeks, and have reached as high as No. 7 in the nation. Kansas is coming off winning its first-ever Big 12 Championship title after besting Texas, 4-2, Sunday, April 21, at the Jayhawk Tennis Center.
The Pioneers enter the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 17-5. Denver finished first in the Sun Belt Conference with a 5-0 record. The Pioneers have been idle since winning the Sun Belt Conference Championship final over Omaha, 5-0, on April 27, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Denver narrowly leads the all-time series against Kansas, 4-3. Last season, the Jayhawks defeated the Pioneers, 4-3, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It marked the KU program’s first victory in the NCAA Tournament in 19 years.
“We have never had an easy match against Denver,” said Kansas head coach Todd Chapman after Monday night’s NCAA Selection Show. “We know it is going to be an extremely tough matchup. Denver is well coached and they play with a great deal of passion and pride. They have a lot of players returning from last year’s team, and so do we. It will be a matchup both teams are familiar with; we know we will have our hands full and it will be a great test.”
This spring, the Jayhawks have won 15 matches against teams that are either currently ranked or have appeared in the national poll at some point this season: Northwestern, Illinois, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Arkansas, Air Force, Tulsa, Rice and Wichita State. KU has not lost to any team outside the current top 15: Texas (No. 9), Washington (No. 10) and Oklahoma State twice (No. 15).
Due to NCAA Tournament play beginning this weekend, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its weekly rankings a day earlier than originally planned. Idle from play since the Big 12 Championship, the Kansas tennis team dropped one spot in the national poll to No. 14. In singles, senior Anastasia Rychagova jumped up four spots into the top-15 in the nation, as she is now ranked No. 13. Fellow senior teammate Janet Koch is the other Jayhawk singles player among the top-125 in the nation, now ranked No. 112. On the doubles side, Koch and her partner, senior Nina Khmelnitckaia, remain in the top-10 in the country, coming in at No. 6 this week. Rychagova and her doubles partner, freshman Sonia Smagina, made the biggest move for Kansas since last week, as they are now the No. 64 duo in the nation, up 21 spots from their April 23 ranking of No. 85.
Tickets for this weekend’s NCAA Tennis Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Jayhawk Tennis Center at Rock Chalk Park are currently on sale through the KU Athletics Ticket Office. Admission is $5 but free for University of Kansas students with a valid KU ID. Tickets can be purchased in advance online here or in person at the Jayhawk Tennis Center on the day of the match.
Live stats and streaming will be available throughout the matches, and updates will be provided on Kansas tennis’ social media accounts.