Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones go 1-1 in Oklahoma road trip


Daniel Jacobi II

Iowa State goes up against Drake University at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center on Jan. 14, 2023.

Iowa State tennis claimed another school first over the weekend, as it took down Oklahoma State, 4-2, to record their first ever win over the Cowgirls.

The No. 10 Cyclones were tested over both matches, as both No. 17 Oklahoma State and No. 23 Oklahoma challenged at multiple spots in both singles and doubles play. The Cyclones fell behind early to the Sooners, losing the doubles point and two additional singles matches.

Facing a 3-0 deficit, Iowa State attempted to mount a comeback but fell short as the Sooners won by a score of 4-1. The Cyclones had matches left on courts one, four and six but were unable to convert at any of those situations.

The Cyclones, who now stand at 14-4, experienced two very different matches between Friday and Sunday, as whichever team won the doubles point seemed to carry their momentum into singles play. Iowa State is 13-0 this season in matches where they won the doubles point but 1-4 when they lose it.

Iowa State was able to get some key wins individually, as it garnered a record of 2-2 against other ranked players or pairs.

Kuearum clinches it from the baseline

Sophomore Anna Supapitch Kuearum played the role of closer once again as she sealed the Cyclones’ win over Oklahoma State at the No. 4 singles spot by defeating Martina Zerulo in a pair of tight games, 6-4, 7-5.

Coming into the matchup, Kuearum had had a competitive schedule of matches with four of her six matches in dual play being against nationally-ranked competition. Kuearum was 1-3 against those four opponents and was looking for her second win in conference play after defeating Baylor’s Liubov Kostenko, 6-2, 6-4.

Kuearum’s win in singles was her first of the day on Friday, as her doubles match with partner Thasaporn Naklo went unfinished. The pair was tied at 4-4 with No. 21 Ayumi Miyamoto and Raquel Gonzalez when the doubles point was secured elsewhere, as teammates Miska Kadleckova and Sofia Cabezas won their match 6-3.

Kadleckova was one of three matches left on court before her victory, with the score standing at 2-2. Oklahoma State put their first point on the board at the No. 6 spot, as Sofia Rojas defeated Iowa State’s Cabezas 6-0, 6-2. Kadleckova recorded the Cyclones’ first singles win and her 25th of the season, taking down Lucia Peyre 6-3, 6-3.

That left the match in the hands of Naklo and Kuearum, and the combination delivered by getting back-to-back victories. Naklo, who is ranked 51st in the country, got her first win of the season over Kristina Novak by a 6-4, 6-4 scoreline.

Kuearum now had the opportunity to clinch her second dual of the year. After taking the first set 6-4, Kuearum faced a tiebreak in the second with the score at 6-6. Once again she remained resilient and, up 6-5, played a strong forehand shot down the line to seal the deal for Iowa State.

Sooners record wire-to-wire victory

Oklahoma came out firing on Sunday against Iowa State, as the Cyclones faced adversity early on.

The Sooners went 2-1 in doubles play, as Iowa State won the first match of the afternoon at the No. 2 spot. Sophomore Ange Oby Kajuru and freshman Xinyi Nong recorded a big upset by taking down the No. 17-ranked pairing of Layne Sleeth and Alexandra Pisareva, who had only lost just five matches all season coming into the matchup.

Oklahoma was able to capitalize on its opportunities on courts one and three, as 16th-ranked Ivana Corley and Carmen Corley were able to get the better of Naklo and Kuearum, 7-5. The Sooners clinched the point through Julia Garcia Ruiz and Dana Guzman, who took down Kadleckova and Cabezas in another tight match, winning by a score of 7-5.

In singles play, Oklahoma raced ahead by taking a pair of quick wins on courts three and six. No. 96 Kadleckova lost for just the third time in dual play this season, falling to No. 106 Carmen Corley 6-0, 6-1. Senior Chie Kezuka lost in straight sets as well to Garcia Ruiz, 6-2, 6-4.

The Cyclones had chances in the remaining matches, however, and got their first point of the day from Cabezas at the No. 5 spot. Cabezas won her second consecutive match by defeating Emma Staker 6-3, 6-4. Cabezas is now 4-1 in Big 12 dual play this season and has dropped only one match to conference opponents all season.

With matches left on courts one, two and four, the Cyclones were able to get to deciding sets in all three to challenge for a comeback. Naklo was down 4-5 in the second set at the No. 1 spot against Sleeth but was able to comeback to take it on a 7-5 scoreline.

Kajuru was one game away from victory when the match was clinched, as she led Guzman 5-4 in the third set with the next game set to begin.

For the second time in three days, the fate of the dual fell to Kuearum, who battled against Pisareva at the No. 4 spot to force a decider. Kuearum won the first set 7-6 but fell behind in the second as Pisareva tied things up on a 6-3 scoreline. In the third, Kuereaum was able to make it 4-4, but Pisareva went ahead at 5-4 to bring up championship point.

Kuearum saved two match points down 0-40 but wasn’t able to get to deuce as Pisareva won the dual for the Sooners.

The loss was also the first time this season where Iowa State won their No. 5 singles match but lost the dual. The Cyclones were 10-0 in that category prior to Sunday’s matchup.

Naklo moves up in record books

Individually, the standouts for the Cyclones over the weekend came from Naklo and Kadleckova, whose matches were usually a key factor in the momentum of both duals.

Naklo’s victory over Novak was her 11th conference win of her career, tying her for sixth in school history. This season has included a few firsts for Naklo, as she reached 100 career wins during the fall and is currently second on the all-time list for victories at the No. 1 spot.

Naklo has been battle tested for seemingly the entire season, as six of her wins have come against fellow-nationally ranked opponents. She has been able to stay in the polls for the entire year and has delivered for the Cyclones at key moments throughout the year.

Naklo has delivered for the Cyclones throughout the season, taking down No. 10 Alexa Noel of Miami in the team’s upset over the Hurricanes. She won nine straight matches at one point during the season and has won 30 matches over ranked opponents during her career to rank among the best in school history in that category.

Iowa State will be back on the road next weekend as they take on West Virginia on Saturday in Morgantown.