March 6, 2016
Results WATCH: GoPro Footage of Bianca Mok's Last Singles Point to Clinch the Win
Lawrence, Kansas - The 58th-ranked University of Denver women's tennis team upset the No. 23 University of Kansas 4-3 today at Jayhawk Tennis Center in Lawrence, Kan. The women improved to 11-2 overall on the season, while handing the Jayhawks only their second loss of the 2016 campaign.
After opening the match with a 3-0 deficit Sunday afternoon at the Jayhawk Tennis Center, the heroic and never-say-quit Lady Pioneers came storming back to stun top-25 ranked Kansas in the final four singles matches, dropping the Jayhawks by a score of 4-3 in front of a raucous KU crowd. In what was likely one of the biggest national college tennis matches this weekend, the Pioneers have moved up to 11-2 on the season (with the only two losses coming to the defending National Champion Vanderbilt Commodores and #51 University of New Mexico).
Desperately wanting revenge from last year's defeat, the Jayhawks got ahead early taking the doubles point following wins on courts three and one. In singles play, Kansas used some momentum to capitalize in both No. 4 and No. 6 singles, pushing the Jayhawks to a 3-0 lead.
Despite the odds with KU only needing one more win to claim the match, the Pioneers fought relentlessly to pull off a historic come-from-behind victory. Junior and Kansas-transfer Morgan Barnhill (Austin, TX) was the first to strike, taking down her former school, dropping sophomore Summer Collins in straight-sets, 6-3, 6-3.
With the Pioneers on the board, junior and co-captain Maureen Slattery (Newport, Va.) outsmarted Janet Koch in a very tight first set, 7-6, only to then completely shut her opponent down 6-0 in the second set, narrowing the Jayhawks' lead over the Pioneers to 3-2.
On court one, after dropping the first set in heated fashion, No. 86 ranked sophomore Julia O'Loughlin (Highland Beach, Fla.) overcame No. 55 Anastasiya Rychagova in a huge upset by the score of 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. O'Loughlin's victory moved Denver into a tie in the team scores at 3-3, with a massive Jayhawk audience turning its attention to the last remaining battle.
With the stage set and an electric atmosphere surrounding the No. 2 singles court, freshman phenom Bianca Mok (Boise, Idaho) blasted through Smith Hinton 6-3, 5-7, 6-0, leaving all of Lawrence, Kan. in stunned silence.
"Kansas is a very tough team. They have strong, athletic, talented girls and based upon their results this season, they deserve to be a top 25 team," head coach Christian Thompson said after the match. "David and I have worked very hard for the last three years developing our girls and selecting players who sacrifice and exemplify a winning mentality. It was amazing to see us finally capitalize on this opportunity."
The heart shown by the Lady Pioneers was something even Kansas head coach Todd Chapman noticed.
"I think at the end of the day it's hard for any coach to say it, but I felt that Denver wanted it more than we did," Chapman said. "Their fight was better, their energy was better, their emotion was better. They played the big moments like they wanted the big moments, and we played the big moments like we were holding onto something and afraid to lose it, and you can't do that against a good team. At the end of the day, I felt that's what cost us. We didn't play the pressure situations the right way; we didn't approach them the right way, so therefore it's hard to play them the right way."
"The camaraderie this season has been a joy to watch as they continue to grow together," Thompson added. "This team knows nothing else, but to play with heart for our program and our university match in and match out. The pride they showed today was unparalleled and I am very proud of their effort."
The team will have a few weeks off before traveling to California to face San Jose State on March 17 at 1:00 p.m. MT, followed by a match against Santa Clara on March 19 at 10:00 a.m. MT.
Results from today's match:
Sunday, March 6
1. Julia O'Loughlin (DEN) def. Anastasiya Rychagova (KU) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. Bianca Mok (DEN) def. Smith Hinton (KU) 6-3, 5-7, 6-0
3. Maureen Slattery (DEN) def. Janet Koch (KU) 7-6, 6-0
4. Nina Khmelnitckaia (KU) def. Evy Van Genechten (DEN) 6-2, 6-3
5. Morgan Barnhill (DEN) def. Summer Collins (KU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Maria Jose Cardona (KU) def. Charlotte Derbyshire (DEN) 6-0, 6-0
1. Nina Khmelnitckaia/Janet Koch (KU) def. Julia O'Loughlin/Maureen Slattery (DEN) 6-3
2. Maria Jose Cardona/Summer Collins (KU) vs. Morgan Barnhill/Bianca Mok (DEN) 4-3, unfinished 3. Smith Hinton/Anastasiya Rychagova (KU) def. Evy Van Genechten/Charlotte Derbyshire (DEN) 6-3
Denver 11-2; National ranking #58
Kansas Jayhawks 8-2; National ranking #23
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (6,4,5,3,1,2)