No. 19 Kansas opens Big 12 Conference play at home
Lawrence, Kan. – After battling through an impressive nonconference slate with seven of nine opponents currently ranked in the top-40, the No. 19-ranked Kansas tennis team has had 13 days to prepare for its Big 12 Conference opener as the Jayhawks host No. 22 TCU at the Jayhawk Tennis Center Friday at 5 p.m., and No. 6 Texas Tech Sunday at 12 p.m.
The Jayhawks enter Big 12 opening weekend with a 6-3 record. Kansas has three victories over now-ranked opponents, including No. 35 North Carolina State, No. 37 William & Mary and No. 45 UNLV.
“The reason we play a tough nonconference schedule is so when we get to conference play, we’re not seeing a team that’s at a higher level than we’ve already seen,” said head coach Todd Chapman. “Hopefully we can compete at the best of our ability and if we do that, I think we’ll put ourselves in some good positions. It’ll be up to the girls at this point to finish things off once we put ourselves in those positions.”
Prior to dual play, the Jayhawks and Horned Frogs met at the Little Rock Invitational to open the fall season. In singles, Kansas went 4-3 against TCU, but the Horned Frogs ended the weekend 2-1 in doubles play against the Jayhawks.
TCU is home to the No. 7-ranked doubles team, Donika Bashota and Olaya Garrido-Rivas, which owns a 6-1 dual match record. Garrido-Rivas is also ranked with Seda Aranktekin at the No. 51 spot. Aranktekin is the the No. 60-ranked singles player and brings a 7-3 dual-play record to Friday’s match. TCU leads the all-time series with Kansas, 6-0, since the series began in 1984.
“We have a high quality opponent in TCU on Friday,” said Chapman. “It (Little Rock Invitational) was the very first tournament of the fall for the both of us and sometimes that’s where you don’t see your best tennis. TCU plays a very difficult schedule and has had a good spring season.”
Kansas will have one day to recover and get in a light practice before the Jayhawks turn their attention to Texas Tech. Before coming to Kansas, Chapman was an assistant coach at Texas Tech for four years where he helped coach the Lady Raiders to the 2012 and 2013 Big 12 regular-season titles, leading to the program’s first-ever bids to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2013.
“This is the fourth time we’ve faced them,” said Chapman. “There’s only one player left on the team who I was part of recruiting, none that I coached. It’s definitely a different feel than the first year or two when you’re playing against kids you coached and recruited.”
Texas Tech has three nationally-ranked singles players on its roster, including No. 17 Gabriela Talaba, No. 40 Felicity Maltby and No. 109 Alex Valenstein. The Lady Raiders also have two ranked doubles teams with Sarah Dvorak and Sabrina Federici at No. 24 and the No. 48 pair of Talaba and Maltby. Texas Tech leads the overall series between to the two schools, 15-9. The Jayhawks have lost the last 12 matches against the Lady Raiders.
“Texas Tech is playing really good tennis right now,” said Chapman. “I look at this weekend for TCU and Texas Tech as both great opportunities. We’re excited to have them both at home and hopefully we come out and compete well and give those that watch us come play something to get behind and something to get excited about.”
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