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IX AT 50: DiIanni, Koves win first tennis national championship at Kansas

13 NEWS at 10 p.m.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Rebecca Jensen DiIanni attended a Kansas tennis camp when she was just 12 years old. Little did she know, she’d make history as a Jayhawk less than a decade later.

“It was the best decision I could have made,” she said.

The Michigan-native became the first Kansas tennis player to earn All-America status in both singles and doubles in one season.

Her junior year, expectations for her and her doubles partner, Nora Koves, were high.

“In my mind, Nora and I were the best,” DiIanni said. “I didn’t think, ‘Was it possible? Could we win it?’ We were going to win it. I just felt so confident in Nora, and I felt good with the coaching staff and like the teammates always supporting us. So I felt like we got this. And so it wasn’t more of a goal. It was just something that was like that we were gonna accomplish by the end of the year.”

The pair did just that in 1994, becoming the first KU tennis players to win a national championship.

“Like that’s insane,” DiIanni said. “I still don’t believe it. That’s amazing.”

After winning the title, the duo earned a wild-card draw to the U.S. Open, where they advanced to the second round.

DiIanni turned pro the following year, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and two brothers.

“I was just like, ‘Why not? Why not join the rest of the family, give it a shot and see what happens?’” she said. “And I did it for six, seven years and it was awesome.”

She and her brother Luke reached the quarterfinals of mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

She also played alongside her brother Murphy at the U.S. Open.

“I lived the dream,” DiIanni said. “I got to play all over the world. I got to play with my, my sister. I got to play with my brothers. I got to play in the Grand Slams. Wow. We are the only family in tennis history to have four people, four siblings playing the Grand Slam at one time. From where we came from, if you put the work ethic in, and if you put the belief in, sky’s the limit.”

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