K-State Road Trip Concludes with Tulsa; Wildcats Host WSU
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State makes the final stop on a grueling four-match roadtrip with a Thursday matchup against No. 72 Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., before returning home for just the second time in 2006 to host in-state rival Wichita State. First-serve is set for 3 p.m. on Thursday against Tulsa, and Saturday’s match against the Shockers will begin at noon at Ahearn Fieldhouse. Admission to all Kansas State tennis matches is free.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas State invaded Utah and left with mixed results. After topping the Utes, 5-2, last Friday, the Wildcats dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 20 BYU on Saturday. Kansas State lost the doubles point in both matches, but managed to rally against Utah with five straight singles victories. Olga Klimova was the only Wildcat to earn a singles win against BYU and went undefeated in both singles and doubles over the weekend.
BIETAU NEARS MILESTONE: Head coach Steve Bietau moved one step closer to 200 wins as the Wildcats topped Utah, 5-2, for win No. 198 on February 17. 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: Kansas State was bumped up to No. 66 in the Feb. 14 poll and remained there in Wednesday’s rankings. Dating back to the final poll of the 2005 season, the Wildcats have now spent six consecutive weeks ranked in the top-75 and have appeared in every poll released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and Fila this season. K-State debuted at No. 67 in the preseason poll and remained there through the first three weeks of play before making the slight upswing to No. 66. Kansas State’s Katerina Kudlackova was tabbed as the No. 100 player in the country in the preseason poll, but in the most recent poll no Wildcats are ranked individually. The poll streak is nowhere near the 46 consecutive polls the Wildcats appeared in from March 21, 2001 through March 16, 2004. The highest ranking achieved by the Wildcats during the last five seasons is No. 32 in the 2003 final poll.
ROAD WOES: Kansas State is 1-2 on the road and has lost the doubles point in all three matches. The Wildcats were topped 4-3 by Texas Tech in the second match of the year and dropped a 6-1 decision to BYU in Provo on Feb. 18. The lone road win of the season came Feb. 17 in a 5-2 victory over Utah. To add to the road blues, all of Kansas State’s luggage was lost as the team was rerouted in Denver following last weekend’s trip to Utah. Fortunately, the Wildcats recovered their luggage, and tennis rackets, and were able to practice late on Monday. The Wildcats will travel by bus to Tulsa to end their current four-match road tilt.
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. After losing the opening match of the spring at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational, freshman Maria Perevoschikova won five straight singles matches including four straight in dual play before her streak was snapped against BYU on Feb. 18.
DOUBLES DILEMMA: The Wildcats won the doubles point in a season-opening win over Drake, but have since lost the point in three straight matches. In a tennis dual, both teams play three doubles matches and the winner of two-out-of-three receives the point. Each singles match is worth one point. Kansas State is 1-2 when winning the doubles point, losing to Texas Tech and Brigham Young. The doubles point is played at the beginning of the match and can give a team an early edge or be the deciding factor in a close match. All three of Kansas State’s doubles combinations are playing together for the first time in dual play. The Wildcats are 4-8 in doubles dual matches this 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 her first three matches of the spring to move into 3rd on the all-time career singles wins list. 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. Three early spring doubles wins have also moved Simosa into 6th all-time with 59 career doubles wins.
ON THE MEND: Kansas State continues 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.
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 12-6 mark in 2005-06 gives her a 43-13 career record, a .767 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.