Tennis secures first win over KU since 2014

Junior Ioana Gheorghita prepares to return in her match against Iowa State at the K-State Fall Invite on Oct. 30, 2020. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State tennis team defeated in-state rival Kansas 4-3 this weekend.

The contest at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium started with doubles play. K-State senior Margot Decker and junior Anna Turco secured a victory over KU’s Tiffany Lagarde and Carmen Roxana Manu on court three to give the Wildcats an early advantage.

Kansas regained the lead and took the doubles point, winning on courts one and two.

Down 1-0 early, K-State came out swinging in singles play. Sophomore Karine-Marion Job shifted the momentum in the matchup from the No. 1 spot with a win over Sonia Smagina, 6-0, 6-4.

“It helped a whole lot that KJ (Karine-Marion Job) came out on fire and got her first win ever against Smagina from KU,” head coach Jordan Smith said in a press release to K-State Athletics.

Turco also put on a strong performance as she dominated Julia Deming, 6-3, 6-1. Those two wins gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead in the matchup.

Kansas responded with a pair of victories from the three and four spot, taking the lead yet again, 3-2.

Junior Maria Linares was pitted against a tough ITA-ranked opponent in No. 102 Malkia Ngounoue. For the second time in as many weeks, Linares was victorious in a hard-fought 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) battle.

With the score tied at 3-3, the match was decided on court five. K-State’s Ioana Gheorghita and KU’s Lagarde were locked into a back-and-forth matchup to clinch the victory for their schools.

Gheorghita and Lagarde battled one another through all three sets. Gheorghita took an early lead, claiming set one, 7-5. Lagarde struck back in the second set, collecting a 7-6 (7-1) win.

Tied 4-4 in the third set, Gheorghita found a chink in the armor of Lagarde and managed to grab the last two games to win the final set, 6-4.

“I’m so excited and tired at the same time,” Gheorghita said. “I will probably realize what happened later. The main thing that was going through my head was, ‘Next point, next point.’ I would try to stay positive through the match. That was the best feeling in college tennis ever.”

With Gheorghita beating Lagarde, K-State (7-7, 2-3 Big 12) had beaten KU (7-8, 1-3 Big 12) for the first time since 2014.

“It has been since 2014 since we had beaten this team,” Smith said. “Ioana (Gheorghita) in the spotlight, she has been on fire all year. I give her a hell of a lot of credit. She lost at KU a couple of weeks ago and came back and won it for us.”

Now 6-0 at home, K-State managed to keep its undefeated home winning streak alive. The Wildcats will take on No. 9 Baylor 17-3, 4-1 Big 12) on Friday, April 9 and No. 2 Texas (18-1, 5-0 Big 12) on Sunday, April 11.

But for now, the Wildcats will celebrate the victory.

“We are undefeated at home,” Gheorghtia said. “I think this will pump up the team for the rest of the season. The coaches said this is our opportunity. If we are at home, we just have to work hard, and that’s what we did (today).”