Shankle, Newborn honored in Senior Day win over Kansas

GOING OUT WITH A BANG Senior Blair Shankle looks to continue the serve in a match against No. 24 TCU on April 19 in Waco. Baylor won the match 4-1. The Lady Bears faced No. 27 Kansas the next weekend and won in a shutout 4-0 in Waco. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

The No. 18-ranked Baylor women’s tennis team defeated No. 27 Kansas 4-0 Sunday afternoon on Senior Day at the Hurd Tennis Center to remain undefeated at home on the season.

This Lady Bears team is the first to go undefeated at home since 2010 and the fifth in program history.

Seniors Blair Shankle and Rhiann Newborn were honored following the win.

Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano says the team was focused on sending the two out with a win.

“We were trying to make sure that we honored our seniors the right way,” Scrivano said, “but we had to make sure we got the match against Kansas. [The team’s] ability to focus on the task at hand, play a really tough Kansas team, find a way to win and afterwards honor two amazing seniors, Blair and Rhiann. That was our goal today and thankfully that all worked out the right way.”

The Lady Bears got the doubles point to start the match when Shankle and sophomore Karina Traxler defeated the No. 30-ranked duo of Nina Khmelnitchkaia and Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum 7-5 at the No. 1 spot. The Jayhawks would have to forfeit at the No. 3 spot due to a lack of players.

The Lady Bears benefitted again from the incomplete lineup, this time in singles as the No. 4 spot was forfeited to give Baylor a 2-0 lead in the match.

At the No. 1 spot, Shankle took care of business, defeating Anastasia Rychagova 6-3, 6-4 to bring the Lady Bears one point closer to victory.

At the No. 2 spot, Newborn clinched the match with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Bernard-Feigenbaum as Baylor won 4-0.

Newborn, who finished the season with an 18-6 singles record, said her teammates are the reason she has enjoyed the season so much.

“This is the best team I could ever ask for,” Newborn said. “They’re such hard workers and I love hanging around with them. They’re so friendly, so nice, so funny and we’ve come together as a team and we’ve bonded so well, so I’m happy I was able to be a part of this team.”

Shankle, who finished the season as the No. 5-ranked singles player holding a 25-4 singles record, said time has flown since she arrived in Waco.

“I can’t believe it’s already been four years. It’s crazy,” Shankle said. “This team, this university, has meant the world to me. I’ve grown a lot here both academically and athletically, so it’s been a great place for me.”

The Lady Bears, having won 10 of their last 11 matches, enter the Big 12 Championship as the No. 3-seed and will face No. 6-seed Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Friday in Norman, Okla.