Tennis Hosts Drake to Open Dual Play
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The excitement and anticipation of a new season meet with high expectations as the Kansas State Wildcats host Drake at noon on Sunday at the Cottonwood Racquet Club in Manhattan. The meeting will mark the first dual meet for the Wildcats in the 2006 season and the first chance for Kansas State to play as a team. Five of the eight K-State netters posted winning singles records during tournament play in the fall and spring, helping the Wildcats to a combined 57-43 mark. A year after going 9-12 overall and 4-9 in Big 12 Conference play, the Wildcats have their eyes on finishing in the top half of the Big 12 and potentially qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have history on their side as the only other team in K-State history to go 9-12 was followed with a 1996 NCAA Tournament bid. The Wildcats topped Drake 7-0 to start the 2005 campaign and Kansas State was a perfect 1-0 at the Cottonwood Racquet Club.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas State opened the spring at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational in Athens, Ga. The Wildcats picked up four singles wins and two more doubles wins on the final day of round-robin play last Sunday and capped a strong start to the spring season. The Wildcats went 8-10 in singles play and 4-5 in doubles, but combined for an 8-4 singles mark and 4-2 doubles mark against Troy and Mississippi State. Jessica Simosa paced the Wildcats with two wins in singles play and Simosa teamed with Katerina Kudlackova to go 2-1 in doubles play.
DOG EAT DOG WORLD: There is no relationship quite as quarrelsome as the relationship between cats and dogs. The Wildcats matched up with two sets of Bulldogs last weekend at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational and will face the Drake Bulldogs at the Cottonwood Racquet Club on Sunday. Against Georgia the Wildcats were 0-6 in singles and 0-3 in doubles play, but topped Mississippi State in singles and doubles play. For the year, the Wildcats are 4-8 in singles matches and 2-4 in doubles matches against teams with dog mascots. As a team K-State is 10-15 all-time in dual play against nine canine teams but hold a 3-1 edge at home.
STREAKING TO VICTORY: While no one is close to the 13-consecutive wins Tamar Kvaratskhelia put together to begin last season, a Kansas State freshman record, several Wildcats put together winning streaks in the fall. Freshman Katerina Kudlackova opened her career with four straight wins including a debut victory over then No. 52 Vlatka Jovanovic of Arkansas. Kvaratskhelia also opened the season with four consecutive wins before dropping two matches in the Indiana Hoosier Classic. Kvaratskhelia then rattled off four more on her way to the semi-finals of the ITA Central Region Tournament where she was defeated by the eventual champion, Arkansas’ Ela Kaluder. Seven of the nine Wildcats to suit up in the fall won three or more matches in a row at some point during the fall season.
STEADY SIMOSA: Jessica Simosa continues her steady ascent up the Kansas State career leaderboards. The senior from Valencia, Venezuela won nine singles matches in the fall to lead all Wildcats and won two more matches last weekend at the Georgia Bulldog Invite to move into 3rd place all-time with 68 wins. Former teammate Maria Rosenberg spent the 2004-05 season rising to the top of the list and is the career wins leader with 79. Simosa has shown constant improvement since her freshman season and turned in her best performance with 21 wins last season. Simosa won 17 matches in her freshman season and 19 during her sophomore campaign. Two doubles wins at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational also moved Simosa into 6th all-time with 58 career doubles wins.
COMPUTER CZECH-LIST: Four straight wins to start her college career and a win over a ranked opponent landed Wildcat freshman Katerina Kudlackova in the Top-100 players in the nation as ranked by the ITA in the season-opening Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings released on January 10. Kansas State debuted as the No. 67 team in the nation. Unlike the preseason poll and the ITA Central region rankings, the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings do not factor a player’s history, rather the wins and losses and quality of opponents faced during the 2005-06 season. The poll is computer based and follows a formula and points chart determined by the ITA. Kudlackova was honored as the No. 27 singles player in the ITA Central region rankings released in early December, behind Senior Jessica Simosa and sophomore Tamar Kvaratskhelia (kva-ratsk-hel-yea), but her 8-4 record in fall play and a season-opening win over No. 52 Arkansas’ Vlatka Jovanovic made her the No. 100 player in the country according to the computer rankings.
FRESH FACES: With a combined 14 wins, Katerina Kudlackova and Maria Perevoschikova are proving that this year’s freshman class is primed to make an immediate impact. Kudlackova was 8-4 in fall singles play and earned a berth in the main draw of the ITA Central Region Tournament. Perevoschikova was 6-2 in the fall after missing the season-opening Missouri Mock Duals. Both players started their careers with victories. Kudlackova won four straight matches to start her career and Perevoschikova streaked to a 3-0 start. Kudlackova won seven matches in doubles play with Tamar Kvaratskhelia, including a run to the semi-finals of the ITA Central Region Tournament. Perevoschikova also reached the semi-finals of the Central Region Tournament while partnering with Jessica Simosa. Perevoschikova finished the fall with a 5-4 doubles record.
WINNING WAYS: After streaking to a record setting 31-7 campaign during her freshman year in 2005, Tamar Kvaratskhelia continued to win matches at a record clip through the fall. Kvaratskhelia, who was the first Wildcat in school history to surpass the 30-win plateau, set the single season winning percentage mark at .816. The sophomore from Tbilisi, Georgia tied for second on the team with eight wins in fall play. Her 9-5 mark in 2005-06 gives her a 40-12 career record, a .769 winning percentage.
KING OF THE MOUNTAIN: K-State head coach Steve Bietau has the longest tenure of any coach in the Big 12. The leader of the Wildcats is tied with Texas A&M’s Bobby Klienecke. Bietau’s 21 seasons directing the Wildcats trails only Ward Haylett’s 35 seasons as track and field head coach as the longest tenure of any Wildcat coach.