K-State tennis looks to upset No. 35 Kansas in Sunflower Showdown

Junior Iva Bago looks to return the ball against Denver University during her match on March 4, 2016, at Mike Goss Stadium. (File Photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

Coming off their first conference victory over West Virginia, the Wildcats are preparing to take on in-state rival the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks are coming into the matchup ranked No. 35 in the country with a 14-5 overall and 4-2 conference record.

The Jayhawks currently have a commanding lead in the overall series against the Wildcats. Kansas leads the series 41-13 after winning last year’s matchup in Lawrence by a score of 4-0.

“KU has a great team this year,” K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg said to K-State Sports. “They are very well coached, and we know that they will come out with a lot of energy and a fighting mentality. We will have the home-court advantage and are feeling good after our win (at West Virginia), so I am anticipating a great college match on Saturday.”

The Wildcats will be looking toward doubles to build momentum. They did exactly that in the victory over the Mountaineers. Freshmen Ana Garcia Navas and Millie Stretton have formed quite the partnership over the last few weeks as the No. 1 doubles team.

The two have won three straight matches as a pairing. K-State will need one of the other two pairs to come through if Stretton and Garcia Navas are successful on Saturday.

“Our doubles play has improved a lot in the last few weeks, and just like most of our matches this year, the doubles point will be very important,” Steinberg said to K-State Sports. “Other than that, I am just expecting us to come out with great energy and resolve and, as always, control the things we can control well.”

Both Kansas and K-State have young teams. The Jayhawks only have one senior on the roster. Freshman Anastasiya Rychagova is the No. 1 singles player for Kansas.

She is coming into her first rivalry match with a record of 13-4 this spring. If Garcia Navas is in the No. 1 position, then this matchup could be a preview between two of the best No. 1 singles players in the country by their senior years.

K-State will next be in action on April 22 for a doubleheader. The Wildcats will be hosting Southern Illinois in the morning and Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the afternoon.