Tennis Team Travels North For NCAA Team Championship
May 6, 2003
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State tennis team's Cinderella season continues this weekend at the 64-team 2003 NCAA Division I Tennis Team Championship when the Wildcats play Northwestern at 10 a.m. Saturday in Evanston, Ill., at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center.
The 45th-ranked 'Cats finished the regular season with a 13-7 overall record, the fourth-best mark in school history, while 19th-ranked Northwestern enters the match with an 18-8 record and on a five-match winning streak. The Wildcats will be looking to tie the school record for most wins in a season. The 1989, 1990 and 2000 teams all won 14 matches.
K-State earned its first NCAA team bid in five years and the third in school history. The Wildcats' last NCAA appearance was in 1998 when they were in the Central Region in Provo, Utah. The 'Cats lost 5-3 to No. 25 New Mexico in the match. K-State's first NCAA appearance was in 1996 when it played in the Central Region in Lawrence, Kan. The Wildcats beat Utah, 5-0, in the opening round, but then lost to host Kansas, 5-4, in the semifinals of the regional.
Kansas State enters this weekend's NCAA Championship having won seven of its last 10 matches. The Wildcats split their matches at the Big 12 Conference Tennis Tournament, April 24-25. K-State beat Texas Tech, 4-1, but then lost to then-32nd ranked Texas, 4-1. The 'Cats won the doubles point in both matches.
Northwestern makes its 14th NCAA Championship appearance after the Wildcats finished the regular season as Big Ten champions. The Wildcats winning streak dates to April 19 when they beat Michigan State, 7-0.
Northwestern leads the series with Kansas State, 3-0. The two teams first met in 1996 in Manhattan. Northwestern beat the 'Cats 5-2 in the season opener. In 1997, Northwestern again beat K-State in its season opener. Kansas State lost 8-1 in Evanston. The last time the two teams met was in 1998. Northwestern won its third match against the Wildcats with an 8-1 win in Illinois.
For the Wildcats, junior Hayley McIver, one of the hottest singles players in the Big 12 Conference, has won six of her last seven matches playing the first five matches at No. 5 singles and the last three at No. 4. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Week is 12-4 in dual matches and 21-10 overall. The left-hander became the first Wildcat to win 20 matches in a single season since Alena Jecminkova, Petra Sedlmajerova and Eva Novotna achieved the milestone in 2001.
Sophomore Andrea Cooper has also put together nine wins in her last 11 matches. She is 12-4 in dual matches and 18-10 overall this season playing 12 matches at No. 6 singles and the last two matches at No. 5.
Kansas State has improved its doubles play recently, winning seven of the last eight doubles points. Leading the way for K-State are Big 12 first team All-Conference doubles selections senior Petra Sedlmajerova and junior Paulina Castillejos. The duo has won four of its last six matches and received its first ITA ranking at No. 56 last week after beating Texas' No. 1 doubles team twice when it was ranked 32nd and 19th. The Wildcats' No. 1 doubles team is 12-6 in dual and overall matches.
Northwestern is led by Big Ten Player of the Year, as well as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Cristelle Grier. The rookie led the Wildcats to their fifth straight Big Ten Tournament title after they finished second in the conference standings during the regular season. Grier finished the season with a 33-6 overall match record; however, she was perfect this spring, going 23-0 in dual matches including wins in all 10 of her Big Ten matches. Currently, she is listed ninth nationally in the latest ITA rankings.