LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was a tough finish for the #44 Denver women’s tennis team, who struggled to find their footing against the sharp #14-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who swept DU, 4-0 in opening round play of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament.
The Pioneers thus finished the year 17-6 and a perfect 5-0 against Summit League competition.
A sweep doesn’t scream of bright spots, but there were a few like DU super-senior Bianca Mok. The #97 nationally-ranked Mok was up, 7-5, 4-3 to #13th ranked singles star Anastasia Rychagova of the Jayhawks before the overall match was ended, due to Kansas clinching.
Mok said she relishes the chance to play opponents of that caliber. “My focus intensifies because I know [Rychagova will] match me ball for ball, shot for shot, she’ll run for days if she needs to,” she said after the match.
She credited her discipline with keeping her ahead of her elite opponent: “the most important thing I think was keeping the momentum, I didn’t want to win the set and let her win the next few games.”
Head coach Christian Bass was very happy with Mok’s play, calling her “very focused,” and saying this is the kind of play she needs heading into her trip to the singles championship in Orlando starting May 20th.
But overall it was a tough day for the Crimson and Gold, after weather forced play indoors with matches late in the first set. The change of scenery made little difference to DU’s #6 Hada Chang who was never in it against Toran Ribes of Kansas. She failed to win a single game in a straight-set massacre.
Then there’s likely 2020 DU team leader Anna Riedmiller, who came back from a first set drubbing vs KU’s #112th ranked Janet Koch to win the second set, 6-4 before the Kansas clinch ended play.
Bass says she’ll push her players to compete over the summer and into the fall to forge themselves into the kind of squad that will be more than just the “big dogs of the Summit League.”
She’s optimistic the time is there for that to happen, seeing as how she had a freshman and three sophomores in her starting six for most of the season.
“We have a lot to work on moving forward, we need to be able to work our opportunities to be on offense much more,” Bass says.
“I know they’re hungry and I know that we have a good group that wants to get out there and compete.”