No. 16 Kansas opens ITA Kick-Off Weekend with victory over No. 18 Illinois

STILLWATER, Okla. – No. 16 Kansas tennis began day one at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament in Stillwater with a victory over No. 18 Illinois, 4-1. The Jayhawks’ second top-25 victory of the season got off to a good start with a sweep in doubles, followed by three out of four wins in singles play.
On Court 3, Kansas’ Malkia Ngounoue and Maria Toran Ribes were the first to finish their match, beating Asuka Kawai and Mia Rabinowitz, 6-1. The Jayhawks’ No. 27-ranked doubles team of Anastasia Rychagova and Sonia Smagina bested Jaclyn Switkes and Emilee Duong, 6-1, giving Kansas the doubles point.
Kansas’ No. 5-ranked doubles duo of Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia’s match versus Sasha Belaya and Daniela Pedraza Novak ended unfinished at 3-3, since the Jayhawks had already clinched the doubles point with the team’s first two wins.
Jayhawk freshman Ngounoue was the first to finish her singles match, falling short to Emilee Duong, 6-4, 6-2. However, Kansas bounced back with a streak of three-straight victories on Courts 2, 3 and 5, giving the Jayhawks four points and the match.
The No. 34-ranked singles player in the country, senior Koch, bested Jaclyn Switkes, 6-0, 6-4, for the Jayhawks’ second point of the match.
Plipuech showed why she deserved Week One’s Big 12 Player of the Week honor with a victory over Daniela Pedraza Novak, 7-6(5), 6-1, earning the Jayhawks’ third point.
Following her doubles match that ended unfinished, No. 70-ranked Khmelnitckaia gave the Jayhawks their fourth point and the match, defeating Illinois’ Mia Rabinowitz, 7-5, 6-4.
Kansas head coach Todd Chapman
“We played an outstanding doubles point Friday,” said Chapman. “We were relentless at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles and played extremely well. In singles, we competed well in some spots and those players helped us pull through in the end. We will look to grow from the things we did well today and will look to improve in a few areas come Saturday.”


Order of Finish: 3, 2

  1. Koch/Khmelnitckaia (KU) vs. Belaya/Pedraza Novak (ILL), 3-3 (unf.)
  2. Rychagova/Smagina (KU) vs. Switkes/Duong (ILL), 6-1
  3. Ngounoue/Toran Ribes (KU) vs. Kawai/Rabinowitz (ILL), 6-1

Order of Finish: 4, 2, 3, 5
1. Rychagova (KU) vs. Kawai (ILL). 6-4, 5-6 (unf.)
2. Koch (KU) def. Switkes (ILL), 6-0, 6-4
3. Plipuech (KU) def. Pedraza Novak (ILL), 7-6(7-5), 6-1
4. Duong (ILL) def. Ngounoue (KU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Rabinowitz (ILL), 7-5, 6-4
6. Smagina (KU) vs. Belaya (ILL) 5-7, 6-5 (unf.)

Kansas tennis follows their second top-25 victory of the season by facing a third top-25 opponent in as many matches. The Jayhawks will take on No. 10 Oklahoma State to conclude the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m., at the Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater.