K-State Tennis Opens Conference Play at Texas Tech
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State is in just the second week of the spring dual season but the Wildcats will start all-important Big 12 Conference matches on the road Sunday at the McLeod Tennis Center. Kansas State (1-0, 0-0) catches Big 12 South foe Texas Tech at the end of a whirlwind week in which the Lady Raiders faced Abilene Christian and Prairie View A&M.
Both the Wildcats and the Lady Raiders began the season ranked in the top-75 by the Fila/Intercolliagiate Tennis Association pre-season rankings and remained unchanged in Tuesday’s poll. Kansas State is the No. 67 team in the nation and Texas Tech is the No. 61 team.
SERIES HISTORY: The Wildcats hold a 9-5 series edge in 14 previous meetings with Texas Tech. Sunday’s match marks the fifth meeting of the two teams in Lubbock, with the Wildcats holding a 3-1 edge on the road. Kansas State has won eight of the last nine meetings.
SCOUTING THE LADY RAIDERS: Texas Tech returns six starters from a team that went 10-13 in 2005. Texas Tech opened their schedule on Wednesday, topping NCAA Division II Abilene Christian 6-1 in Lubbock. The Lady Raiders are led by No. 75 Tara Browning. The senior from High Wycombe, Australia, has compiled a 16-4 singles record and 14-5 doubles mark prior to Saturday’s contest with Prairie View A&M. Wycombe will face the Wildcats’ wins leader Jessica Simosa at the No. 1 singles position and will team with Lakann Wagley to face Simosa and Katerina Kudlackova at No. 1 doubles. Samantha Vander Drift is second on the team with 11 wins and will play at the No. 4 position against K-State’s Maria Perevoschikova. Senior Katja Kovacic is the only other Lady Raider with double figure win totals at 10-4.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas State jumped out to a quick start last Sunday, winning the doubles point and then winning in straight sets in five of the six singles matches to top Drake 7-0 at the Cottonwood Racquet Club in Manhattan. The Wildcats won at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles to build an early 1-0 lead and cruised through the first four singles matches without dropping a set. Senior Jessica Simosa earned her team-leading 12th win of the year by defeating Irinia Kalashnikova, 6-3, 6-3. Simosa’s win clinched the match for K-State following wins by Tamar Kvaratskhelia at No. 2 singles and Maria Perevoschikova at No. 3 singles.
BIETAU NEARS MILESTONE: With a 7-0 win over Drake at the Cottonwood Racquet Club on Sunday, Wildcat head coach Steve Bietau notched career win number 197. Bietau became the all-time wins leader at Kansas State during just his third season in 1987 and has since gone on to triple the combined wins of his four predecessors. Bietau has the most wins of any active head coach in the Big 12 Conference North Division and is fourth in the entire conference. Bietau’s team’s have reached double digits in the win column in nine of his 21 seasons, including a school-high 15 wins in 2003.
CONSECUTIVE CATS: The Wildcats spent their second consecutive week ranked in the top-75 according to the Fila/ITA Women’s Tennis Rankings. K-State debuted at No. 67 in the preseason poll and remained there in Tuesday’s rankings.
ON THE MEND: Kansas State will have to do without Viviana Yrureta for an indefinite amount of time after the sophomore from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, had ankle surgery over Christmas break. Yrureta, who was hampered by the injury during fall play, compiled a 3-3 singles record and a 5-4 doubles record before missing the final two tournaments of the fall with illness.
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 10-5 mark in 2005-06 gives her a 41-12 career record, a .773 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.