MANHATTAN - After a successful fall campaign, the Kansas State women’s tennis team will open the 2005 spring season at its second “home”, Cottonwood Racquet Club. The Wildcats will play host to the Drake Bulldogs, beginning at noon on January 22. Kansas State is 3-4 all-time against the Bulldogs, winning the last meeting between the squads, 9-0 on February 22, 1998 in Manhattan.
Drake finished with a 10-13 overall record in 2004 and 6-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference, good for a fourth place finish. The Bulldogs return three seniors including Zorana Stefanovic, who is ranked 18th in the ITA Midwest Regional rankings. The weekend’s matchup features sisters facing each other for the first time in college as Aveen Alkhatib of Kansas State will face her sister Cheen from Drake.
With a difficult 2004 season in the rearview mirror, the Wildcats and head coach Steve Bietau have set their sights on a strong 2005 season. In four of the past five seasons, Bietau’s teams have registered winning records (58-51), including a school record 15-win season and NCAA Round of 16 appearance in 2003. Bietau is optimistic for the prospects of the new season and a return to winning ways.
“We potentially, right now, are better at every position in the lineup. Part of that is a result of recruiting and part of it is the improvements that have been made by our returning players,” said the second-longest tenured coach in K-State athletic history.
2005 Spring Schedule
The 2005 spring schedule features eight non-conference foes and the difficult Big 12 slate. K-State’s overall record against its 2005 schedule is 122-229, but head coach Steve Bietau feels his team can navigate this mountain of a schedule.
“Our schedule is always ambitious. When you combine the people we play in the non-conference with the strength of the Big 12, it is always a difficult slate. One way to look at it, is if we have a winning a record in the nonconference, we will be successful in the Big 12. This translates into a successful season.”
K-State will open with Drake on January 22 in Manhattan at the Cottonwood Racquet Club. In total, K-State will face at least two opponents from each of these conferences: Missouri Valley (Drake, Wichita State, SMS), Mountain West (Utah, BYU) and the SEC (Ole Miss, Arkansas).
Wildcats Among Season-Opening Rankings
The ITA released its first national ranking on January 11 and K-State has one representative in the singles and doubles list. Senior Maria Rosenberg made the list at No. 109, four spots below her fall preseason ITA ranking of No. 105. Rosenberg and doubles partner, freshman Tamar Kvaratskhelia tied for No. 60 on the doubles ranking. During the 2004 season, Rosenberg was the only Wildcat to be ranked at any time during the season, reaching No. 83 in the February 24, 2004 ranking.
On December 1, Rosenberg, Kvaratskhelia, junior Jessica Simosa and freshman Olga Klimova were named to the ITA Central Region ranking. Rosenberg was slotted at No. 7, with Kvaratskhelia making her debut in any ranking at No. 9. The Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia native is the only freshman to be ranked among the top-10. The duo was also named as the No. 5 doubles team. Simosa and Klimova reached the ranking as a doubles tandem, reaching the No. 12 spot in the ranking.