Big 12 seeding on the line as Cyclones take on Mountaineers


Jacob Rice

Members of the Iowa State tennis team huddle together during the Cyclones’ match against the Oklahoma Sooners April 8.

Iowa State tennis looks to close out its Big 12 regular season on a high note Tuesday as they take on West Virginia in the final conference match.

The 16-4 Cyclones are now tied in the wins column from a year ago, when they posted a record of 16-7 and reached the first round of the NCAA Team Championships. No. 12 Iowa State is currently tied with No. 18 Oklahoma State in the conference standings, with both teams having two losses in Big 12 dual play.

Tuesday’s match was originally scheduled for April 8, but the Cyclones were unable to travel to Morgantown for the match due to their flight getting canceled.

The conference’s regular season title is decided, as Texas and Oklahoma, both of which faced off against one another in the national championship last season, will share the honors this year. Both the Longhorns and Sooners finished conference play with 8-1 records, and each has 18 wins overall on the year.

An Iowa State win against the Mountaineers would mean that it would earn the No. 3 seed over Oklahoma State, as the Cyclones defeated the Cowgirls in their head-to-head matchup on March 31. A 4-2 win in Stillwater marked the first time in program history that the Cyclones had beaten Oklahoma State on the road.

Iowa State is coming off of a strong couple of results against nationally-ranked programs TCU and Texas Tech at home. The Cyclones blanked the 50th-ranked Horned Frogs 4-0 on Friday then took down No. 35 Red Raiders 4-1 on Sunday. The weekend results yielded a perfect 4-0 home record for the Cyclones, as they are now tied with Oklahoma State (14-0) for the best home record in the conference.

Iowa State comes into Tuesday’s matchup with a record six conference wins from the weekend homestead and has gone 9-4 against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones currently have five entries in either the singles or doubles national rankings and as a team have spent a program record of 25 consecutive weeks in the national polls.

Seniors Thasaporn Naklo and Chie Kezuka will look to continue their winning ways from this past weekend, as they both concluded their final collegiate home matches Sunday.

Naklo, who is ranked 56th in the country in singles and 52nd in doubles, is now tied for fifth in the program’s all-time wins category, as she sits at 138 career victories alongside Samantha Budai. Budai, who graduated in 2017, became the first Iowa State player to earn a national ranking and finished her collegiate career with the second-most wins in program history.

Naklo went 1-1 in singles over the weekend, dropping her match against Texas Tech’s Olivia Peet and triumphing over TCU’s Tiphanie Lemaitre in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-2. In doubles, she and partner, Anna Supapitch Kuearum, were not able to finish either of their doubles matches and are currently 7-4 overall. The pair have a 1-2 record in conference play.

Kezuka capped off her final home match with a win over Texas Tech’s Arina Oreshchenkova. Kezuka defeated her opponent in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, which gave her the program record for most career conference victories at 16. Kezuka is currently slated to play at the No. 6 spot in singles, as she has for most of the season, and is 8-7 when playing on that court.

In doubles, the Cyclones have won over 80% of their matches at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. The pair of Miska Kadleckova and Sofia Cabezas, as well as the combination of Xinyi Nong and Ange Oby Kajuru, have gone a combined 22-6 in dual play at their respective spots.

Both pairs clinched the doubles point for the Cyclones against TCU and Texas Tech, as their strong offensive play concluded the 15th time that Iowa State has won in doubles play. The Cyclones are undefeated in matches where they clinch the doubles point, boasting a 15-0 record in that category.

Iowa State will face off against a West Virginia team that has gone 11-10 this season. The Mountaineers have a 1-7 record in Big 12 dual play. The Mountaineers are looking for their first win in six matches, as they most recently fell to both TCU and Texas Tech at home. Their lone conference victory came against Kansas State at the start of March when they defeated the Wildcats 4-2.

Iowa State and West Virginia are scheduled to play at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Lawrence, Kansas.