No. 17 Jayhawks down No. 36 K-State, 4-1
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The No. 17-ranked Kansas women’s tennis team defeated in-state rival No. 36 Kansas State, 4-1, Sunday in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown at the Body First Indoor Tennis Center in Manhattan, Kansas.
With the completion of Sunday’s match, the Jayhawks are now 14-4 overall and have a 6-1 record against Big 12 opponents. K-State moved to 14-7 on the season and 4-3 in Big 12 Conference play.
“It was a tough battle from the first point of doubles to the last point of singles,” said head coach Todd Chapman. “I have a lot of respect for Kansas State and the team they have. I think they’re a really solid team. They made us earn it today. We had to get gritty and get tough. It was just a battle all the way through.”
Finishing their match first, the KU tandem of Janet Koch and Amber Policare claimed a, 6-3, comeback win opposite of Maria Linares and Anna Turco at the No. 2 spot.
Despoina Vogasari and Maria Toran Ribes won three-straight games to even the score at 5-5, but were not able to overcome Rosanna Maffei and Ines Mesquita on court three, falling 7-5.
As the final doubles match left, KU’s top-competing duo of No. 84 Nina Khmelnitckaia and Tatiana Nikolaeva held off Margot Decker and Carolina Costamagna’s rally, defeating the Wildcat pair, 7-5, to clinch the doubles point and put the Jayhawks up, 1-0.
“I thought the doubles point was key,” said Chapman. “Kansas State played good doubles, we just found a way to finish things off there. I liked the way we finished things in singles and doubles (Sunday). We were playing to win and not worried about losing in those situations.”
With only three indoor courts available, the top-three in the lineup were the first onto the courts. Facing Linares in singles, Koch dropped her first set, 6-2. She then earned a, 6-2, second-set victory on court two to send her match into a third set. Koch was outpaced by Linares in the third set, ultimately falling, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, and evening the score at 1-1.
At the top spot, No. 67 Vogasari and Decker went back-and-forth in the first set with Vogasari just edging the Wildcat, 7-6 (7-0). Decker took the second set, 6-2, but Vogasari bounced back in the third set for a, 6-2, win, putting Kansas up, 2-1.
Khmelnitckaia lost a close first set to Costamagna, 7-5, at the No. 3 position. Khmelnitckaia then downed Costamagna, 6-2, in the second set to force a third set. Khmelnitckaia won three-consecutive games in the third set to complete the victory, 6-4, and extend the Jayhawk lead to 3-1.
After two matches finished, Toran Ribes was able to begin her match as the No. 4 player. The Jayhawk only fell behind Turco once in the first set, coming out with a, 6-2, win. Turco pulled away in the second set to take it, 6-3. Toran Ribes blanked Turco in the deciding set, 6-0, clinching the match for her team, 4-1.
“I feel very fortunate to get out of here in tough conditions,” said Chapman. “They had a great crowd. Playing on three courts is a little different – we haven’t done that. It’s a lot of waiting around and time that your four, five and six (players) have to get themselves going and mentally ready to go.”
Playing alongside Toran Ribes were two matches that could have changed the pace of the overall match. Taking the court to start the fifth singles match of the day, Nikolaeva dropped her first set, 6-4, to Maffei. In the second set, play was stopped with Nikolaeva down, 5-4, due to the match being clinched.
Policare’s match was the last one against Mesquita at the No. 6 spot. Policare fell in the first set, 6-1, and the second set was stopped with the Jayhawk down, 5-1, due to the overall match being claimed.
“I thought we did a really good job and I’m excited about where we are as a team,” said Chapman. “(We’re) getting ready for a great weekend next weekend with OSU and OU coming in. We’ll have some really good competition and hopefully we’ll get a lot of fans to come out Friday and then on Sunday for Senior Day.”
Kansas will return to Lawrence for its final two regular-season matches against Oklahoma State, Friday at 5 p.m., and Oklahoma Sunday at 12 p.m. Sunday will also be Senior Day for Vogasari, the lone senior on the Kansas roster this season.
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