Three Big Takeaways: Kadleckova and Kajuru reach last 16


Jacob Rice

Sofia Cabezas competes against the Oklahoma Sooners April 8, 2022.

Iowa State encountered another busy schedule on the tennis courts this past week as the Cyclones competed at the ITA All-American Championships and Cal Fall Invitational.

Across both the singles and doubles disciplines, Iowa State came away with a couple of big wins against ranked opponents and major headlines throughout the tournaments.

Namely, junior Miska Kadleckova and sophomore Ange Oby Kajuru made a breakthrough to the doubles main draw at the All-American Championships, where they reached the round of 16.

Singles also saw several important victories for the Iowa State squad, including senior All-American candidate Thasaporn Naklo recording her 100th collegiate win in the opening round of qualifying.

Overall, both tournaments provided the Cyclones an important opportunity to face off against some of the best talent in collegiate tennis, a trend that will likely become all too familiar with the ITA Regional and Fall National Championships this season, as well as the gauntlet of the dual matches in the spring.

Kadleckova/Kajuru record upset in doubles main draw

The story of the week for the Cyclones came at the ITA All-American doubles Championships, with the duo of Kadleckova and Kajuru reaching the round of 16 in the main draw.

The Cyclones entered two pairs for the doubles discipline, both playing with each other for the first time. Seniors, Naklo and Chie Kezuka reached the last 16 after defeating their first two opponents 8-4 and 8-7. Naklo and Kezuka fell to the Virginia pairing of Julia Adams and Annabelle Xu in another 8-7 match.

Kadleckova and Kajuru lost in the round of 16 in the qualifying bracket, falling to Chloe Beck and Cameron Morra, both of whom were named All-Americans in singles last year. Despite the loss, the Iowa State pair was awarded an invitation to the main draw.

The Cyclone pairing had another top-level competition against them in the first round, as they took on Syracuse’s Miyuka Kimoto and Polina Kozyreva. Both players were well experienced in the doubles game, as they had qualified for the NCAA Championships last year and earned a win in their first-round match.

Kadleckova and Kajuru made the most of their situation, as they recorded their biggest win together as a pair by defeating Kimoto and Kozyreva 7-6, 6-1. The No. 6 seeds were three of the eight that didn’t advance past the first round.

An NCAA Champion awaited the Cyclones in the round of 16 as they took on Nell Miller and Amelia Rajecki of North Carolina State. Miller won the national doubles title last year, with partner Jaeda Daniel, becoming the first Wolfpack duo to win an NCAA women’s tennis title.

Kadleckova and Kajuru came out firing in the opening set, achieving a 100% success rate on their second serves to win 6-4. The Cyclone pairing served an ace and converted three out of their six break points to pull away in the tight encounter.

The second set saw Miller and Rajecki respond strongly, as they were able to capitalize on Iowa State’s mistakes to take it 6-2. Kadleckova and Kajuru served a pair of double faults, while the Wolfpack produced consistent first and second serves. With success rates of 77% and 100%, respectively, in those statistical departments, Miller and Rajecki evened the match and sent it to a decider.

With the match now being decided on who would score 10 points first, it now would be a test of attrition to see who would break first. Both pairs served well on their second serves, going 5/5 combined. Miller and Rajecki went up 7-4 eventually, but Kadleckova and Kajuru leveled things at 7-7 as the endpoint drew near.

Miller and Rajecki went 2-1 over the final three points and took the match 10-8 in the tiebreaker.

Kuearum enjoys singles success

Sophomore Anna Supapitch Kuearum led the Cyclones out West in the Cal Fall Invitational, as she made a run to the quarterfinals of the singles bracket. Kuearum went 3-2 across all of her matches throughout the tournament, as she and partner Sofia Cabezas paired up in doubles.

As a pair, Kuearum and Cabezas won their opening-round matchup in a tight encounter with UC Davis’ Lauren Ko and Arianna Stavropolous. The Cyclones came out on top 8-7 in the one-set match, taking the last game by a tiebreaker scoreline of 7-3.

Their next match was against California’s Valentina Ivanov and Jessica Alsola, a match that had a much wider winning margin. The Berkeley pair proved to be the winners, as they defeated Kuearum and Cabezas 8-4 en route to the semifinals.

Kuearum has experience in playing big singles matches for the Cyclones in the past. Last year as a freshman, she went 11-8 at the No. 4 singles spot in the spring, including defeating Kansas’ Carmen Roxana Manu 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

In defeating the eight-time Romanian champion, Kuearum helped Iowa State beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas, for the first time in school history. She also defeated Hawkeye Vipasha Mehra 6-0, 6-3, to help the Cyclones defeat their rivals from Iowa City.

Kuearum’s journey started off in the first round with a relatively smooth win over Santa Clara’s Jenna Gordon, getting through to the next round after a 6-4, 6-0 win. Her next matchup is against a home favorite – Berkeley’s Hannah Viller Moeller.

Moeller produced results for the Golden Bears in her freshman campaign, recording double-digit win totals in both singles and doubles during the spring (16-8 and 15-7, respectively) and helping them reach the second round of the NCAA Championships.

This past summer, Moeller added to her resume further by reclaiming her Danish national singles title and winning the mixed doubles title with former Texas player Christian Sigsgaard. The now-professional Sigsgaard helped the Longhorns win the men’s team title in 2019 and finished his college career with the seventh-most wins in the program’s history.

Kuearum did not seem to be phased as she weathered the storm that Moeller had to offer and came out on top. The Thai native won the match in a three-setter, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, and advanced to the last eight of the competition.

The California-native competition was again a theme for Kuearum, who next faced Alexis Blokhina of Stanford. Like Moeller, Blokhina has had success outside the collegiate season, including reaching the quarterfinals in mixed doubles in the Australian Open juniors.

Blokhina ended Kuearum’s hopes of advancing any further as she won the matchup 6-4, 6-2.

Naklo earns 100th win, headlines ITA singles wins for Cyclones

Over at the ITA All-American Championships, it was Thasaporn Naklo who made the headlines for the Iowa State squad. Naklo reached the round of 16 in the qualifying round bracket, earning her 100th collegiate victory along the way.

The No. 5 seed in the draw, Naklo earned her record-breaking achievement against Florida State’s Mila Saric, defeating the Seminole player 6-1, 7-5. The Bangkok, Thailand native now has the 16th-most victories in Iowa State history for singles and doubles combined, as she is now tied with 2011 graduate Erin Karonis.

Naklo earned another victory in the next round against UC Santa Barbara junior Camille Kiss, a top prospect in Southern California’s junior tennis circuit and Big West freshman of the year. Naklo won out 7-5, 6-0 to march on to the last 16, where her next opponent was the newcomer, Vanderbilt’s Celia-Belle Mohr.

Mohr defeated the ninth seed, Ohio State’s Sydni Ratliff, to reach that stage. She started the competition in the pre-qualifying stage, going 3-0 in that bracket to advance to the qualifiers. After falling in the first set 1-6, Naklo bounced back to take the second 6-3, but Mohr countered well in the third and ran away with the set and match 6-1.

Elsewhere, Kajuru lost her opening round match in the qualifiers 7-6, 7-5 to top seed Abigail Forbes of North Carolina. Forbes would go on to reach the main draw, while Kajuru fell to the consolation bracket.

Kajuru’s singles schedule wasn’t over just yet, however, as she bounced back strong in the consolation rounds and recorded a pair of wins. The Tokyo native first defeated Oklahoma State’s Kristina Novak 6-1, 6-4 and then Colorado State’s Radka Buzkova 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to finish the week 2-1.

Kajuru’s partner Kadleckova also had a high point in her singles matches, as she defeated Texas A&M’s Gianna Pielet. She took down the A&M sophomore in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, to move onto the round of 64.

However, her streak of success would end there as she fell to Virginia’s Melodie Collard, named one of the top 10 newcomers by the ITA last year. Collard won 7-5, 6-4, as the No. 12 seed went on to advance to the qualifying round.

Iowa State will next compete at the ITA Regional tournament, which is hosted by Oklahoma State this year. The Cyclones will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to start the tournament on Oct. 13.