Wildcats Come up Short in Sunflower Showdown, Fall to No. 35 KU, 4-2

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Competing against its ninth ranked opponent on the year, K-State women's tennis was defeated, 4-2, by No. 35 KU at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium.

After dropping the doubles point to the Jayhawks (15-5, 5-2 Big 12), the Wildcats (9-11, 1-6 Big 12) earned wins by Millie Stretton and Livia Cirnu in singles play. Cirnu picked up a win against Summer Collins by retirement in the No. 6 position, which tied the score at one apiece. Later in the match, after K-State had fallen behind 3-1 in the overall match, Stretton took down Nina Khmelnitckaia 7-6 (2), 7-5 in the No. 4 position to bring the Wildcats to within one, 3-2, before falling for the sixth time in conference action.

"I think today was the first time Millie played a complete match against a quality opponent, and that was great to see," said K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg. "We know her potential and what she can do out there, and it is nice to see things coming together in big matches."

With the team score at 3-2, Carolina Costamagna was in a 5-5 tie with Janet Koch in the No. 3 position, trying to force a third set, while Ana Garcia Navas was knotted up with Smith Hinton 3-3 in the No. 2 position, already in a third set. Costamagna would ultimately fall to Koch 7-5, 7-5 and the match at No. 2 would go unfinished with Hinton leading Garcia Navas 3-6, 6-4, 4-3.

"I am happy with our singles showing overall," said K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg. "The conditions were not easy with the wind, and I think we played better tennis on some courts today than we did in the past few weeks, which is encouraging going into the end of regular season and conference play."

Also competing in singles was Sara Castellano in the No. 1 position where she was beat by No. 67 Anastasiya Rychagova 6-2, 6-1. 

In doubles play, Garcia Navas and Stretton lost to No. 79 Koch and Khmelnitckaia 6-3 in the No. 1 position while Cirnu and Costamagna fell to Rychagova and Hinton 6-4 in the No. 3 position. 

Playing in the No. 2 position for the first time this season, Castellano and Palma Juhasz were trailing Cardona and Collins 6-5 before the match went unfinished.

"We definitely had our chances in doubles, but we did not play aggressive enough to close it out in both two and three," explained Steinberg. "KU took advantage of that and really took it to us in the big moments. That is something we have been talking about a lot, and we have improved so much in it, but we still have to do better at staying aggressive.

"Overall, I think there is a lot of positives from today and I am hoping we can carry this momentum into next weekend at home and to the Big 12 Conference tournament."

The Wildcats continue the homestand with a doubleheader on April 22 as they take on Southern Illinois (11-9, 3-0 MVC) at 9:30 a.m. and No. 15 Oklahoma State (18-4, 6-0) at 3 p.m. at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium.


No. 1 No. 67 Rychagova (KU) def. Castellano (K-State) 6-2, 6-1
No. 2 Garcia Navas (K-State) vs. Hinton (KU) 6-3, 4-6, 3-4, unfinished
No. 3 Koch (KU) def. Costamagna (K-State) 7-5, 7-5
No. 4 Stretton (K-State) def. Khmelnitckaia (KU) 7-6 (2), 7-5
No. 5 Cardona (KU) def. Bago (K-State) 6-2, 6-3
No. 6 Cirnu (K-State) def. Collins (KU) retired

No. 1 No. 79 Koch/Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Garcia Navas/Stretton (K-State) 6-3
No. 2  Castellano/juhasz (K-State) vs. Cardona/Collins (KU) 5-6, unfinished
No. 3 Rychagova/Hinton (KU) def. Costamagna/Cirnu (K-State) 6-4