No. 4 Iowa State snaps road losing streak to Hawkeyes


Daniel Jacobi II

Thasaporn Naklo gets ready to hit the ball during her match against Drake University at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center on Jan. 14, 2023.

Adarsh Tamma, Sports Reporter

Iowa State tennis wrapped up the non-conference portion of the dual season on Friday night by sweeping in-state rivals Iowa 4-0 in the annual Cy-Hawk matchup.

The No. 4 Cyclones made history by beating the No. 40 Hawkeyes on their home court for the first time since October of 1976, breaking a streak of 26 matches. Iowa State registered its tenth win against Iowa at the Hawkeyes Tennis and Recreation Complex, with the series record now standing 41-10 in favor of the Hawkeyes.

The Cyclones battled the Hawkeyes at several spots throughout the evening, and were able to come out as victors thanks to strong play from their top-half singles players. Iowa State was also aided at the start of the match in doubles, quickly recovering from a loss to turn things around and register the first point of the dual.

Friday’s win was also the fifth time this season that the Cyclones have swept their opponents, with three of them coming on the road. That mark is the second most by Iowa State under the tenure of head coach Boomer Saia, who oversaw his team record six sweeps last season.

Naklo and Kuearum fall at No. 1 doubles

Senior Thasaporn Naklo and sophomore Anna Supapitch Kuearum dropped their second match as a pairing on Friday at the top doubles spot. The duo were upset by Iowa’s Daianne Hayashida and Vipasha Mehra 1-6, marking the first win of the dual for the Hawkeyes.

Heading into Friday, Naklo and Kuearum had gone 11-1 together, and had not lost a match. The pair first linked up in the middle of the fall season, defeating three ranked opponents along the way. Naklo and Kuearum had most recently beaten the No. 24 pairing of Sofia Johnson and Tatsiana Sasnouskaya 6-3 in the Cyclones’ 7-0 win over Old Dominion last weekend.

Hayashida and Mehra implemented an aggressive, offensive style of play early on, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the set. Naklo and Kuearum provided a response by putting their point on the board to make it 3-1, but it was all Hawkeyes from that point. Hayashida and Mehra continued their momentum to ultimately close out the match for their fifth win of the season. The Iowa pairing are now undefeated at 5-0.

Iowa State quickly bounced back elsewhere, as its No. 2 and 3 doubles pairings registered victories to take the doubles point 2-1.

Sophomore Ange Oby Kajuru and freshman Xinyi Nong won their match at the No. 2 spot for their fourth win of the season as a pairing. The duo defeated Iowa’s Samantha Mannix and Pia Kranholdt 6-1 to tie things back up for their team.

Kajuru and Nong raced ahead of their opponents to build up a 4-0 lead. The duo eventually closed out on a 2-1 run, handing Mannix and Kranholdt their sixth loss of the season. Kajuru and Nong are now 4-1 together, with Nong also sporting a 2-0 singles record in her first season as a Cyclone.

Juniors Miska Kadleckova and Sofia Cabezas closed the first half of play out by winning on the third court. The pair defeated Anya Lamoreaux and Barbara Pokorna 6-2.

Kadleckova and Cabezas were Iowa State’s top pairing last season, when they became the first duo in school history to qualify for both the ITA National Championships in the fall and NCAA Championships in the spring. They ended last year with a record of 21-10 and No. 85 in the national polls.

The pair had relinked their partnership at the end of the fall campaign, playing for the first time together at the Fall Series Championships. Since then, they have achieved a record of 7-2 together, recording their eighth win on Friday by defeating Lamoureaux and Pokorna.

The pairs traded off the first few games, with the Hawkeye duo leading 2-1. Kadleckova and Cabezas were able to control the tempo from that point on, and went on a 5-0 run to seal the doubles point for the Cyclones.

Kadleckova and Kajuru strike again

Good things seemed to come in pairs for Iowa State in singles play, as Kadleckova and Kajuru won at the No. 2 and 3 spots respectively. Both players defeated their respective opponents by 6-1, 6-1 score lines to push Iowa State’s lead to 3-0 in the dual.

No. 70 Kajuru continued her winning momentum from doubles play into singles, translating her fluid service game to take the opening set 6-1 over Mehra. The Japanese native had little trouble in the second frame as well, taking a 4-0 lead to run away with the match and register the first singles point for the Cyclones.

Kajuru now has 17 victories on the season, and is the winningest player for Iowa State in singles play. She has dropped just three matches as well, with her last defeat coming to No. 18 Dasha Vidmanova at the ITA Indoor National Championships.

Lightning struck twice quickly after Kajuru’s match, as Kadleckova made it 3-0 in favor of Iowa State by beating Samantha Mannix. The Slovenia native recorded her 14th straight win of the year, and is now tied for the most wins at No. 3 singles in program history.

Kadleckova has had a strong season for Iowa State in the singles department, and climbed 60 spots up the national rankings to check in at No. 63 in the latest poll. She also became the third Iowa State player to reach the 100-win milestone last month, joining Naklo and senior Chie Kezuka to achieve that under Saia’s tenure.

Against Mannix, Kadleckova flew out of the gates, registering a 4-1 lead in the opening frame. She continued that winning play into the second frame after closing out the first, and never saw much opposition from Mannix to win her 22nd match of the season.

The Cyclones have tended to win their duals so far this year when Kadleckova and Kajuru have put points on the board. In the 12 that Iowa State have played so far this season, eight of their ten wins have come when Kadleckova and Kajuru won their respective single matches.

Kezuka seals the deal at No. 6 spot

At the No. 6 singles spot, senior Chie Kezuka snapped a two-match downturn to win the dual for Iowa State. Kezuka took down Lamoreaux 6-2, 6-1.

Kezuka dropped her individual matches at the No. 6 singles spot in the Cyclones’ loss over Georgia and win against Texas at the Indoor National Championships. Her most recent match against Allison Isaacs of Old Dominion was unfinished at 4-4 in the first set after Iowa State had won the dual 4-1.

On Friday, Kezuka attacked Lamoreaux to start the match and quickly took the opening set on a 6-2 scoreline. She continued that momentum in the second, and wrapped up Iowa State’s victory for its third straight-sets win on the day.

Kezuka’s win was the second time that she had clinched a dual for the Cyclones this season. The first was also her last victory, when she capped a dramatic comeback for Iowa State in the first round of the ITA Indoor National Championships. Against Amy Stevens of Vanderbilt, Kezuka came back from a first set loss to take the second frame 6-3. In the decider, she held her nerve and won the tiebreak 7-3 to upset the then No. 9 Commodores.

Iowa State is off next week, but will be back on court on March 10 to open the conference season against Kansas at home. The Cyclones and Jayhawks are set to kickoff their match at 1 p.m.