Summer 2006

Kushti Oyinshi

Madina Rakhim
Madina Rakhim, a junior transfer from
Kazakhstan Sports and Tourism Academy,
is a power player — or, in Kazakh, kushti
. She won the Missouri Valley
Conference No. 1 singles title and helped
lead the Shockers to their first MVC
championship since 1998.

Madina Rakhim, a native of Almity, Kazakhstan, had never been to Kansas before arriving in Wichita in early January to join the Shocker tennis program.

Certainly, she could have benefited from some time to settle in, get to know her teammates and, oh yeah, learn a completely new culture.

Instead, she faced a challenging situation her first weekend in black and gold, playing in a tournament in Tulsa that featured two players ranked in the top 50 nationally.

Welcome to the states.

Far from overwhelmed, Rakhim proceeded to knock off Arkansas’ Ela Kaluder (No. 43) and Nebraska’s Kim Hartmann (No. 63).

Who needs time for acclimation? Wichita State’s newest tennis star had arrived.

WSU coach and director of tennis Chris Young knew Rakhim had the talent to be a major contributor, but her performance in that early tournament was more than even he expected.

“She just blew us away with her skills,” Young reports.

Rakhim, a junior transfer from Kazakhstan Sports and Tourism Academy, continued to impress, turning in one of the best individual seasons in the 25-year history of Shocker women’s tennis.

In addition, she helped WSU to a memorable year, which included a conference title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

“I am proud of the Shockers this year,” Rakhim says. “I am new, so I can’t compare it to the past, but I guess we did good work.” Good work, indeed. Here’s a closer look:

• Rakhim finished 21-3 and won the Missouri Valley Conference No. 1 singles title, leading the Shocks to their first MVC championship since 1998.

• Teaming with senior team leader Wendi Webster, Rakhim won a conference title in doubles, too. The duo was unbeaten in MVC play and went 20-2 overall.

• Rakhim helped WSU to its first berth in the NCAA tournament. The Shockers lost to 13th-ranked Pepperdine, but Young was proud of how his players competed against a traditional power.

• Rakhim was in the national rankings for 11 weeks. In the final poll, she was No. 10 in WSU’s competitive 48-team regional, which earns her a spot in the Riviera All-American Championships in the fall in Los Angeles.

Keep in mind, too, that all those accomplishments came while Rakhim suffered through a season-long injury to the index finger on her right, or playing, hand. It severely limited her ability to hit a backhand and will require off-season surgery.

Thus, it doesn’t sound like hyperbole when Young describes Rakhim, who boasts international experience, as “a once-in-a-lifetime player for Wichita State.”

Her resume is indeed notable.

She was a member of the Kazakhstan national team from 2001-06, was a semifinalist in the World University Games in 2003 and played in Fed Cup, considered the premier team competition in women’s tennis, in 2004.

Young, in his second year at WSU, became acquainted with Rakhim when he was coaching another player from Kazakhstan at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

“She has definitely helped us take the program to a new level,” Young says.

Rakhim can hit all the necessary shots, but her strength is the power game, which includes a serve of more than 100 miles per hour, Young says. “She has the ability to hit any shot she wants to hit at any point. But what separates her from other players is the pace she hits the ball with.

“There aren’t many girls on the professional tour who hit it harder than she does. She overpowers a lot of other players. At the same time, she has a lot of touch.”

These days, tennis seems the easy part for Rakhim. Off the court, she has had to deal with many adjustments.

“Different culture, different people, different food — everything is different,” she says. “But U.S. is not bad. I like it.”

Specifically, she likes WSU.

“I love being a Shocker,” she says.


Just in Case

Deep down, Wichita State pitcher Aaron Shafer knew the answer was going to be a firm “no,” but he asked anyway.

Kushti Oyinshi

Madina Rakhim, a native of Kazakhstan, had never been to Kansas before arriving in early January to join the Shocker tennis program.

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