Three Big Takeaways: New doubles pairings proving successful


Jacob Rice

Miska Kadleckova competes against the Oklahoma Sooners on April 8, 2022 at Ames Racquet and Fitness.

Adarsh Tamma, Sports Reporter

Iowa State tennis got their season rolling this past weekend at the Milwaukee Classic. Chie Kezuka and Miska Kadleckova found major success in their first tournament together, as the pair reached the women’s doubles final Sunday.

Outside of doubles, the Cyclones also found success in singles, as Kezuka and Kadleckova advanced far in the draw.

Starting off strong

Kezuka and Kadleckova wasted no time getting things going in their first match together on Friday. Placed as the No. 3 seeds in the draw, the pair matched up against Marquette’s Emilija Kojcic and Lara Kaiser. 

The Cyclone duo blanked their opponents 6-0, one of only two pairs to record that scoreline in the first round.

Kezuka, who finished last season with an overall record of 47-9 across both singles and doubles, had strong success in the latter discipline with fellow Japanese player Ange Oby Kajuru. The pair went 17-3 at the No. 3 doubles spot for the Cyclones, including a 7-1 mark in Big 12 play. 

Kadleckova also boasts a strong doubles resume, having qualified for the ITA Fall National Championships last year with Sofia Cabezas. The junior from Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, went 23-11 in doubles, as well as posting another double-digit win campaign at No. 3 singles (18-8).

Both players’ strong campaigns across the board seem to be an ideal pairing together so far, as their offensive game styles worked well over the weekend.

Saturday saw Kezuka and Kadleckova collect two more wins to advance to the finals. In the quarters, the pair came through with a win over Julia Andreach of Notre Dame and Teodora Ristic of Mercer. 

In a close match between two debuting pairs, the Iowa State duo came out on top by a 6-4 scoreline. The semifinals saw the pair continue their winning ways, as they rolled through Butler’s Norah Balthazor and Natalie Boesing, this time only dropping a game to advance to their first final together.

Tough competition awaited Kezuka and Kadleckova, as they now matched up against top seeds Madison Sieg and Naomi Cheong of Southern California. Sieg was one of the Trojans’ high-profile recruits before the start of this season, as she was ranked the No. 5 prospect in the nation by Tennis Recruiting Network and the top player in the New England area. 

Coming into this year, she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and Wimbledon junior doubles tournaments in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The Cyclones’ run ended abruptly at the hands of the Trojans, who won the title by a score of 6-1. Despite the loss, the pair seem to have much to reflect on, having gone 3-1 over the weekend and producing multiple dominant wins.

Kadleckova records upset, rallies to reach quarters

In singles, Kadleckova recorded her first win over a ranked opponent of the season Friday, as she took down Duke’s Georgia Drummy in the first round.

Drummy, who came into the matchup ranked No. 8 in the country, had qualified for the NCAA Championships once each in singles and doubles over the past two years while also being named an All-American in singles by the ITA as well.

In the best-of-three match, Kadeckova was able to keep pace with Drummy and eventually forced a break point and took the lead 6-5 in the opening set. At this point in the match, however, Drummy had to retire due to a medical injury. 

Not resting on her laurels, Kadleckova got right back to work in the second round against Indiana’s Lara Schneider, who, like her opponent, also qualified for last year’s Fall ITA Doubles Championship. Schneider and partner Laura Masic qualified after winning the Ohio Valley Regional title.

In another back-and-forth affair, it was Schneider who struck first blood by taking the first set 6-2. Kadleckova was able to fight back, however, and leveled the match in the second on a scoreline of 7-6. In the tiebreaker, Kadleckova again came through, winning 10-4 to punch her ticket to the quarterfinals.

Kadleckova once again encountered Sieg in the quarters, and it was the USC athlete who ended her hopes of advancing further. Sieg won 6-0, 6-0, and went on to win the title on Sunday against teammate Cheong 7-6, 6-2.

Kezuka redeems in back draw

Kezuka had a tougher time in the singles, dropping her first round matchup to Navy’s Stella Ribaudo, who was one of her team’s 20-game winners last season. Ribaudo won after a three-set match, 2-6, 6-4 and 10-7 in the tiebreaker.

Despite starting slow out of the blocks, Kezuka bounced back in the consolation bracket as she took down Balthazor by a convincing scoreline of 6-2, 6-1 to advance. This was followed by another straight sets victory over Portland’s Sally Pethybridge 6-3, 6-2. Pethybridge, like Sieg, was another athlete who participated in the Wimbledon junior championships. At the 2021 edition, Pethybridge fell to Russia’s Anastasiia Gureva 2-6, 6-2, 7-10.

In the semis, Kezuka rematched against Ristic on Sunday. The first set was tight, but Ristic was able to break serve late and eventually took it 7-5. The Mercer athlete used that momentum in the second and ran away with the set and match by winning on a 6-3 mark. Ristic went on to lose against Wisconsin’s Taylor Cataldi in the final by the reverse scoreline of 6-3, 7-5. In her last 23 singles matches dating back to last season, Kezuka boasts a record of 20-3, continuing her strong form in the solo discipline.

Iowa State continues its season on Monday at the West Texas Pro Tennis Open in Lubbock, Texas. The Cyclones will feature singles players Thasaporn Naklo, Ange Oby Kajuru and Anna Supapitch Kuearum, all of who will be playing in the qualifying draw. Live results of the tournament can be found here.