Kansas State Tennis Team Travels South For NCAA Round Of 16
May 12, 2003
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The unseeded Kansas State tennis team continues its Cinderella season when it makes its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Team Championship Round of 16 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The 45th-ranked Wildcats begin play in the tournament at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex Thursday at 5 p.m. against No. 5 seed and fifth ranked Southern California.
K-State enters the Round of 16 with a school record 15-7 overall record and as one of two teams, Harvard, that are unseeded. USC brings a 21-5 overall record to Florida after finishing the regular season fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 5-3 mark.
The Wildcats earned their trip to the Round of 16 after upsetting two top-20 programs this past weekend in regional action. The 'Cats beat No. 16 Northwestern, 4-1, and No. 9 Virginia Commonwealth, 4-2. K-State has won eight of its last 12 matches.
"I was thrilled with the way they played," head coach Steve Bietau said. "I have to say, to a large extent, Andres (Gonzalez) and I got out of the way and let them roll with it because they did such a great job with it. Everybody contributed somewhere and that has been typical with the season all the way through. Now their confidence has grown dramatically."
Southern California advance to Gainesville with a pair of victories on its home court last weekend. The Trojans defeated Sacremento State, 4-0, and then Georgia Tech, 4-0, in the regional final. USC is making its 19th appearance in the Round of 16.
For the Wildcats the bottom half of the lineup has been the key in the last two matches.
"Going back to the beginning of the season, we really challenged the people at the bottom half of the lineup," Bietau said. "We had pretty consistent performances going at No. 1 and at No. 2. After that there were times we felt anything could happen, good or bad. We felt like we had to have a more balanced contribution. We started asking for that at an early stage and we started receiving it midway through the season."
Sophomore Andrea Cooper earned three of four points this weekend. She won both her singles matches at No. 5 and teammed with junior Hayley McIver to beat VCU at No. 2 doubles. Cooper is undefeated after six matches since moving up to No. 5. She has won nine of her last 11 complete matches and is 20-10 overall and 14-4 in dual matches.
McIver has won nine of her last 10 matches, playing the first five matches at No. 5 singles and the last five at No. 4. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Week is 13-5 in dual matches and 22-11 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.
Kansas State has improved its doubles play recently, winning eight of the last nine 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 five of its last seven matches and received its first ITA ranking at No. 56 after beating Texas' No. 1 doubles team twice when it was ranked 32nd and 19th. The Wildcats' No. 1 doubles team is 13-7 in dual and overall matches.
Southern California is led by four players ranked in the latest ITA rankings. Senior Jewel Peterson is 27-14 overall at No. 1 and is ranked No. 10. Luana Magnani is ranked No. 21 and has a 16-5 record at No. 2. Also ranked for the Trojans are No. 3 Maureen Diaz (No. 62) and No. 4 Anita Loyola (No. 119).