Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones earn victory over Jayhawks to advance in Big 12 Tournament


Daniel Jacobi II

Miska Kadleckova celebrates winning a match against Drake University at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center on Jan. 14, 2023.

The No. 11 Iowa State tennis team booked its place into the second round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday afternoon, after beating 28th-ranked Kansas 4-1.

The Cyclones entered this year’s conference tournament as the No. 3 seed, their highest in program history. That seeding came on the back of a 7-2 record during the conference dual campaign, as well as 17-4 mark overall on the year.

Iowa State’s win over the Jayhawks marked the third consecutive year that it has won its first round matchup in the Tournament. The Cyclones also made it a 2-0 record in the season series against Kansas, as their first victory in conference play came in a 4-2 result at home back on March 10.

Strong doubles play once again led the Cyclones to victory, as they clinched the first point of the match thanks to wins from their top two pairs. Both of those matches also saw Iowa State players convert initial deficits into wins.

Singles action saw Iowa State once again attack the Jayhawks at key moments Kansas registered a win at the No. 4 spot, but were overmatched by the Cyclones elsewhere as they booked their second-ever trip to conference tournament’s semifinals.

Doubles pairs recover to register wins

On the No. 1 and 2 courts in doubles action, Iowa State saw itself face early leads against a Kansas team that got off to a quick start.

Senior Thasaporn Naklo and sophomore Anna Supapitch Kuearum were down 4-1 against Malkia Ngounoue and Heike Janse Van Vuuren. The duos came into the matchup ranked No. 52 and 51 in the country respectively, with the Iowa State pairing having won the previous meeting during the regular season.

Naklo and Kuearum didn’t let their opponents get another game off of them, as a five-game winning streak resulted in a 6-4 victory. The win improved their record to 15-4 on the year, and they are now 7-4 in matches at the No. 1 spot.

The No. 2 match saw sophomore Ange Oby Kajuru and freshman Xinyi Nong in a 2-0 hole against Jocelyn Massey and Carmen Roxana Manu. The Kansas combination were looking for its first win against an Iowa State pair this year, as they had fallen to juniors Miska Kadleckova and Sofia Cabezas back in March.

Kajuru and Nong had experience in being in pressure-filled situations, such as claiming their largest upset as a partnership against Oklahoma’s Layne Sleeth and Alexandra Pisareva. The 6-4 win over the Sooners on Apr. 2 added another feather in Kajuru and Nong’s cap.

Nong, who was playing in her first postseason match, helped the doubles pair fight back against the initial deficit. The duo successfully came back, clinching the doubles point for the Cyclones on a 6-4 scoreline.

Iowa State’s doubles wins improved its record to 17-0 in dual matches where they clinched the doubles point.

Naklo wins ranked matchup

The No. 1 singles match saw Naklo record her seventh-ranked singles win of the season, as she defeated Ngounoue in straight sets.

The meeting at the top court was a rematch from earlier this year, as the 67th-ranked Naklo and 69th-ranked Ngounoue had squared off twice during the regular season. Naklo entered the match with a 2-0 record over her opponent this year, beating her during both the fall and spring campaigns.

The match had tight play throughout, as the minimum two-game difference decided both sets. In the opener, Naklo took the opener 7-5, and was tested again in the second, guaranteeing Iowa State’s third point of the match on a 6-4 scoreline.

The win was Naklo’s seventh against a nationally-ranked opponent this year, as she now has over 20 ranked victories in her collegiate career. As well as improving her overall record to 22-9.

Iowa State’s first win in singles came at the No. 5 spot through Cabezas, who advanced past Silvia Maria Costache 6-3, 6-0. The Venezuela native earned her fourth straight win on Friday, as she is now 12-5 this year in dual match play.

Kadleckova ties single-season wins record

Kadleckova’s 6-3, 6-3 win over Maria Titova won the match for the Cyclones.

Kadleckova, along with Kajuru have been a tandem force in singles play, as they both have only suffered three losses in 2023.

The win marked the fifth time this year that Kadleckova has clinched a match for the Cyclones. At one of the season’s high points, she won her singles match against Texas at the ITA Indoor National Championships to help the Cyclones upset the then-No. 1 team in the nation. Iowa State’s win was the first time that they had beaten the Longhorns.

Kadleckova’s win put her at a record of 28-8 on the season. She has at least 20 wins in both singles and doubles play, improving off of her performances from a year ago. The junior went 18-8 in singles action last year, and with Cabezas, became the first doubles pair to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Kadleckova is now in a tie for first on the program’s all-time leaderboard for the most number of singles wins in a season. Ann Camblin had previously been the sole recipient of the top spot, having finished the 1984-85 season with a 28-13 record.

Iowa State will face off against No. 2 seed Oklahoma at 6 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament Saturday at the Jayhawk Tennis Center.