Three Jayhawks Named ITA Scholar-Athletes; Team Also Honored
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas graduated seniors Nina Khmelnitckaia and Janet Koch, and rising sophomore Sonia Smagina, were named 2019 All-Academic Scholar Athletes Thursday by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). In addition, the ITA named the 2018-19 Jayhawks as an All-Academic Team.
ITA scholar-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1) be a varsity letter winner, 2) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and 3) have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters (including freshman through senior year).
To earn All-Academic honors, a team must sport a combined GPA of 3.20 or higher.
“I am very proud of our team,” said Kansas tennis head coach Todd Chapman. “They had a championship season on and off the court. It is so difficult to put in the time and effort it takes to achieve what these young ladies did on the court, but it takes special people to be able to do it in both athletics and academics. Janet, Nina, and Sonia led the way for our team with their grades and I appreciate each member of our team for their dedication to Kansas tennis.”
A native of Moscow, Russia, Khmelnitckaia posted an overall singles mark of 17-8 during 2018-19. In addition, she finished with an 18-1 overall doubles record. Paired with fellow senior Janet Koch, the duo was ranked as high as No. 1 by the ITA at one point during the season; they captured the prestigious Riviera ITA All-American Championships doubles tournament title in October of 2018, a first in Kansas women’s tennis history. Khmelnitckaia was named Academic All-Big 12 First Team, All-Big 12 Doubles First Team and All-Big 12 Singles Second Team during her final year donning the Crimson and Blue.
Khmelnitckaia and Koch finished the 2018-19 season as the ITA’s No. 5-ranked doubles team in the nation and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, earning First-Team All-American status along the way. The duo concluded the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 26-6, 17-4 vs. ranked opponents. Koch, a Durbanville, South Africa native, also racked up accolades during her senior campaign for the Jayhawks, being named Academic All-Big 12 First Team and All-Big 12 Doubles First Team.
Smagina had a successful start to her collegiate tennis career, compiling a singles record of 16-3 playing at various positions in the lineup. For her efforts on the courts, the Penza, Russia native was honored with All-Big 12 Singles Second-Team honors. After pairing with senior Anastasia Rychagova throughout the spring season at No. 2 doubles, and earning a 16-5 record together, the duo was named All-Big 12 Doubles First Team. Additionally, Smagina was awarded a spot on the league’s All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
As a team, the Jayhawks compiled an overall dual match record of 21-5 this past spring, going 7-2 in Big 12 Conference play. Highlights during the season included being ranked as high as No. 7 in the country by the ITA (ending the season at No. 13); capturing the Big 12 Conference Championship at the Jayhawk Tennis Center with successive wins over TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas; half a dozen players worked their way onto the Big 12 All-Tournament Team while claiming the team title; six Jayhawks were named to the All-Big 12 Teams as well as Chapman being honored as the league’s Coach of the Year; being selected to host the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Championships in Lawrence, where KU defeated Denver and Florida to advance to the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance in the national tournament since 1998. In the Sweet 16, the Jayhawks battled in a close match, but ultimately fell to the Stanford Cardinal, 4-3. Stanford went on to claim its 20th overall, and second-consecutive, national title. In addition, Kansas’ three seniors: Khmelnitckaia, Koch and Anastasia Rychagova, each earned First-Team All-American accolades by the ITA. They earned the distinction by virtue of their seeds in the singles (Rychagova) and doubles (Koch and Khmelnitckaia) draws at the NCAA Tennis Championship in May.
Other contributors to the Jayhawks’ success both on the courts and in the classrooms this past season included: Maria Toran Ribes, Julia Deming, Malkia Ngounoue and Plobrung Plipuech.
About the Intercollegiate Tennis Association
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is committed to serving college tennis and returning the leaders of tomorrow. As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA oversees men’s and women’s varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College divisions. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITA_Tennis on Twitter and Instagram.