Jayhawks and Shockers Meet in Top-50 Tennis Showdown

No. 49 Wichita State at No. 45 Kansas
Time 3 p.m.
Date Feb. 28
Location Lawrence, Kan.
Arena Jayhawk Tennis Center
Series Kansas leads 15-4
Notes Kansas

No. 45 Kansas women’s tennis returns home from a two-match swing in the state of Kentucky to host the 49th-ranked Wichita State Shockers on Friday, at 3 p.m., at the Jayhawk Tennis Center.

It has been 12 years since the Shockers (8-3, 0-0 MVC) and Jayhawks (8-1, 0-0 Big 12) met in a dual match. Historically, Kansas has led Wichita State, leading the series, 15-4 and has won the last seven matches in a row.

The two teams’ last meeting occurred on Feb. 2, 2002, when KU rolled past WSU, 6-1, in the Jayhawks’ home-opener. This past fall, sophomore Maria Jose Cardona was matched up against WSU’s Julia Schiller in the first round of the ITA Central Regionals. After falling in the first set, Cardona rallied to defeat Schiller, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Wichita State has emerged as a central powerhouse. Last season, WSU won the Missouri Valley Conference championship and gained a bid to the NCAA Championships, where they ultimately fell to Nebraska in the first round. This season, WSU touts an 8-3 record that includes an eight-match win streak that was recently snapped with a 4-2 loss at current No. 54 Colorado. On Feb. 7, Kansas defeated then unranked Colorado, 4-3.

Schiller, the Shocker’s No. 1 singles player, has gone 6-0 at the top spot and is currently on an eight-match swing this spring.  Rebecca Pedrazzi, WSU’s No. 2 player is on a two-match streak and has split results on the second court, 3-3, in dual match play.

In doubles, the duo of Veronika Blaskova and Lucia Kovalova are the Shocker’s No. 1 team. Blaskova and Kovalova have gone 3-4 this dual season and 6-5 overall. At No. 2 doubles, Montse B. Fernandez and Pedrazzi are on a six-match win streak this dual season and have an overall record of 14-4.

Last season, the Jayhawks welcomed another local rival, UMKC on Feb. 28, 2013. The week of the match, Kansas broke into the ITA rankings for the first time in four years at No. 65. Current Jayhawk, Cardona, pulled out a win at the No. 1 singles spot in three sets and Maria Belen Luduena defeated her opponent 6-3, 6-1, en route to the Jayhawks’ 7-0 win over the ‘Roos.

Outside of the Big 12, Kansas will tussle with three more ranked non-conference foes in what is one of the toughest schedules in program history. Kansas has already downed two ranked opponents in then-No. 36 Nebraska (Jan. 31) and No. 66 Houston (Feb. 14). Kansas downed  both Nebraska and Houston on the road. KU’s match at home against WSU marks the first time this season it will host a ranked opponent. Kansas has also knocked off Colorado, which recently debuted on the ITA charts at No. 54. Within the Big 12, there are currently six ranked opponents.

OPPONENT                     DATE
No. 36 Nebraska          W, 4-3
No. 66 Houston            W, 4-3
No. 39 Kentucky            L, 4-0 
No. 49 Wichita State    Feb. 28
No. 17 Tulsa                 March 8
No. 53 Indiana              March 20

Senior Claire Dreyer has proven herself an important cog in the Jayhawks’ successful season. Dreyer remains undefeated in dual match play, and has only posted three loses in the 2013-14 season. In total, Dreyer is on a nine-match winning streak that began at the Purdue Invitational on Jan. 18. Dreyer is now 13-3 this season, including a tiebreaker-win over Maike Zeppernick of No. 36 Nebraska. Dreyer also defeated 66th-ranked Houston’s Charlotte Phillips, 6-3, 6-3 to help the Jayhawks top the Cougars on Feb. 14. Additionally, Dreyer shines in doubles where she and partner Morgan Barnhill are on a five-match win swing and boast an 8-1 overall doubles record this spring.

Since the Jayhawks debuted on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings at No. 70, the Jayhawks have made a consistent climb. Last week, KU rose to No. 60, its best ranking in seven years. This week, Kansas reached No. 45, the highest ranking the program has ever reached in a weekly rankings format.

Previously, Kansas’ highest ranking in the ITA’s weekly poll was No. 52 on June 2, 2001. Before 2000, the ITA only released end-of-season rankings. Over the past 14 years, week-by-week rankings became available. The highest end-of-season ranking for KU came when the Jayhawks completed their season at No. 7 in 1994, the year Rebecca Jensen and Nora Koves won the NCAA Doubles Championship.

Desipite the recent loss at Kentucky, Kansas remains a top contender in the Big 12. Currently, the team is ranked second behind Oklahoma in early non-conference winning percentages. For the first time this season, Kansas bypassed not one, but two, Big 12 foes on the ITA list. While Kansas climbed to No. 45, it stepped in front of No. 50 Oklahoma State and No. 61 TCU.

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