THIS WEEK: at Bulldog Invitational on Sept. 26-28 in Athens, Ga.
NEXT WEEK: at Hoosier Classic on Oct. 3-5 in Bloomington, Ind.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
The Kansas State women's tennis team opens the 2003-04 season this weekend with fall tournament play at the Bulldog Invitational hosted by the University of Georgia on Sept. 26-28 in Athens, Ga.
TWO DECADES OF EXCELLENCE
Head coach Steve Bietau enters his 20th season with the Wildcats in 2003-04. He is currently the second-longest tenured coach in K-State history behind legendary track coach Ward Haylett.
QUOTING COACH STEVE BIETAU
'This is the time of year (fall season) where we start developing our team and play for regional rankings in the spring,' Bietau said. 'We are going through a series of challenge matches right now to determine our lineup for Georgia and this weekend will be a test of how well our players execute what we have been practicing over the last two weeks.'
SCOUTING THE TOURNAMENT FIELD
Georgia, one of the nation's elite programs in collegiate tennis, plays host to Kansas State, Georgia Southern and South Alabama at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Last season, the Bulldogs finished seventh nationally and reached the NCAA Elite Eight. UGA, winners of two NCAA Championships in 1994 and 2000, are guided by long-time head coach Jeff Wallace, who is currently the nation's winningest active coach. They are additionally led by the nation's preseason No.1-ranked player in senior All-American Agata Cioroch. South Alabama, defending Sun Belt Conference champions, finished the 2002-03 season ranked No. 16 in the nation with a 21-5 overall record, while Georgia Southern had its first winning season since 2000, posting a 10-9 overall mark under then first-year coach Erica Perkins.
BACK TO FAMILIAR TERRITORY
Seniors Paulina Castillejos (Puebla, Mexico) and Hayley McIver (Deception Bay, Australia) and junior Maria Rosenberg (Manhattan, Kan.) are no strangers to Athens. During the 2001-02 season, all three Wildcats played in the Bulldog Fall Invitational. McIver went 3-1, while Rosenberg went a perfect 4-0 against opponents from UGA, Notre Dame and Miami (Fla.).
PARTY OF FIVE
Sophomores Jessica Simosa (Valencia, Venezuela) and Aveen Alkhatib (Manhattan, Kan.) are two of the five returning members on the team who participated in postseason action last year. Simosa posted a 17-15 overall record mainly at No. 3 singles with numerous wins against ranked opponents.
SHE'S NO ROOKIE
Junior Judith Diaz (Caracas, Venezuela), a transfer from Tyler Junior College, is the only newcomer to the 2003-04 squad. She brings strong credentials to the lineup having earned NJCAA All-America honors and winning an NJCAA national championship at No. 3 singles while at the Texas-based junior college.
A WAVE OF SUCCESS
Kansas State is coming off its third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002-03 having reached the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history (lost 4-0 to USC). It was a memorable season for the Wildcats, winning a school record 15 matches and posting a program best 7-4 Big 12 Conference record. With a 15-8 overall record, K-State went on to finish 32nd nationally and first regionally (central region), the highest final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team ranking in school history.