Kilgo kills it

Kenna Kilgo returns a serve during a doubles match against Denver on Saturday at the Lubbock Country Club. Kilgo and Samantha Adams won the match, 8-3.

After defeating Denver 6-1 this past weekend, the No. 21 Texas Tech women’s tennis team will face No. 29 Rice in the first round of the ITA Kickoff weekend in Waco.

With a win against Denver and the season fully under way, senior Sandra Dynka said she knows the team must focus to take on Rice.

“It was really fun to get a win off the back,” she said. “It was a little bit of an easier team than we are going to play this weekend, so we definitely need to stay focused during practice this week.”

Tech coach Todd Petty was pleased with how the Lady Raiders performed against Denver.

“I thought we played really well, especially in the doubles,” Petty said. “I didn’t see many signs of nerves at the very beginning. We had some trouble finishing out some sets and matches, but we were able to get over that. It was definitely a tough match to begin the year with.”

Petty said he was surprised at the performance of junior Kenna Kilgo this past weekend.

“Kenna Kilgo played amazing at number two,” he said. “She has earned her way up the ladder. She won 6-1, or 6-0, against a very good player, and she handles herself very well.”

The Lady Raiders had to play through adversity against Denver, which made the score seem misleading, Petty said.

“We had a lot of 6-4, 7-5 type sets,” Petty said. “We were up big in a lot of those sets, and let them kind of claw their way back into it. So, 6-1 is very deceiving. It was a lot closer than that for sure.”

During the offseason, the Lady Raiders have worked hard, and Dynka said she believes it pays off.

“We really work hard in the offseason,” Dynka said. “I mean, we did have a few struggles, but I think that at the end of the day, the hard work really did pay off. I think that is what makes this team who we are.”

Dynka said the goals during the match this weekend are not much of an apprehension for her.

“I just want to have fun, honestly,” she said. “It’s my senior year, and I think that I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself. (I need to) just remember that I love the game.”

Petty said he wants a win to come out of the rounds in Waco. He said he knows of the challenges they are facing and what pressure the Owls will bring.

“We want to go in and win both (rounds), and make it to the Sweet 16 and advance in the National Indoors,” Petty said. “If we can get by this first round against Rice, that will be a huge win in our pocket because Rice was a Sweet 16 team last year. (Rice has) a team that is returning a lot of their players that is going to be an absolute battle, but if we can get by that, I think that the pressure is kind of off at that point.”

The winner at Saturday’s kickoff will advance to the ITA Indoor National Championship.

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