Last Pio standing Bianca Mok faces familiar opponent in NCAA singles tournament

In the traditional three-act structure employed in narrative fiction, the final act  is resolution, with first a climax and then everything tied up and resolved.

Monday, on the hot and humid shores of Lake Nona in Orlando, DU senior Bianca Mok will be standing in the middle of the third and final act of her rivalry with University of Kansas juggernaut Anastasia “Nas” Rychagova, the #13 singles player in college tennis. The two will square off at 3:30pm MT in the first round of the 64-player NCAA singles tournament (the doubles tournament is this week as well but the Pios did not have a team that qualified).

The first act for the Russian Rychagova and Mok was way back in 2016, when the then-sophmore Mok took Nas down in a three-set thriller at the Notre Dame Invitational.

They then met a little over two weeks ago in the first round of the NCAA team tournament. Mok was up 7-5, 4-3 before the match was abandoned when the Jayhawks clinched the victory to end DU’s dual match season.

The #97 in college tennis Mok is fired up for round three, according to her coaches.

“She’s ready to go, she’s excited about playing Kansas again,” says associate head coach David Loewenthal.

Former Pio All-American Maureen Slattery is loving the matchup: “B plays her best when she’s confident and I think knowing her opponent will give her confidence. She’s beaten her before and that has to be in Anastasia’s head.”

Chance to cement place in DU athletics history 

Air Bianca: Mok hopes to have a special delivery for KU and Nas Rychagova Monday in Orlando

If the senior from Boise can get past Rychagova and win the next match to reach the Sweet Sixteen, she would join Slattery and Julia O’Loughlin as DU’s All-Americans of the D1 era.

But while Loewenthal concedes his #1 player has played some of her best tennis against Nas, he warns against thinking Mok has any sort of upper-hand.

“Both players know each other very well, but I don’t necessarily give much weight to that,” he says. ” I think Rychagova is a very, very good player in her senior year as well, obviously there’s a lot riding on this match for both for them”

The tournament will be live-streamed by the USTA.

With lacrosse falling to Maryland Saturday evening, Mok becomes the final Denver student-athlete in official competition for the 2018-2019 school year.

DU’s coaches, Loewethal and head coach Christian Bass continue to be highly appreciative of all the fan support the team has received this season. This, as Mok prepares for two final acts, the one against Rychagova, and the one marking the end of her college career.

As Loewenthal says: “We’re excited for her and she’s super excited and couldn’t be more proud of this kid”