By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State tennis coach Steve Bietau is trying to guard against it, but there are those occasional slips when he compares this 2011 team to his 2003 squad.
That just happened to be a team that went 7-4 in the Big 12 and 15-8 overall and was the last Wildcat team to advance to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, it played in the Sweet 16.
"One of the things I tell this team is that at this stage of the season, that team was no better than this year's team," said Bietau, who will send his Wildcats against New Mexico at 5 p.m. on Friday and Drake at noon on Sunday at the Body First Tennis and Fitness Center in Manhattan. "That team had two chemical engineers and everyone did well in school. From a character standpoint, there were no issues, and no issues on motivation. This group has a lot of the same characteristics."
K-State is coming off an overall 7-13 season in 2010, which included a 4-7 mark in Big 12 play, which was the best since 2006.
Bietau said he was uncertain of his lineup, but has three players competing for the 1-2-3 positions in freshman Petra Niedermayerova, sophomore Karla Bonacic and senior Antea Huljev. All, Bietau says, have defeated nationally ranked players, which includes Niedermayerova last week at Georgia.
Vying for the next three positions are juniors Nina Sertic and Petra Chuda, sophomores Carmen Borau Ramos and Ana Gomez Aleman, and freshman Alina Piotrowski.
"There will be a couple individuals out of that group not making the lineup on a regular basis," said Bietau. "All of those girls could win matches at the bottom of our lineup."
Overall, Bietau said, "This team has to learn how good they are. They are putting in the work in the weight room and on the court, but they need to understand how good they can really be. We'll be constantly refining the little things that will allow us to win against Big 12 teams, but they're paying their dues and working hard."
Last Week in Georgia
K-State opened its season last week at the University of Georgia. The Wildcats dominated Troy winning six of seven singles matches and sweeping three doubles matches.
"It was a great weekend for development," said Bietau. "Troy may not have a name in tennis, but they are a quality team."
K-State was also 1-5 in singles play and 1-3 in doubles play against Indiana, and 1-7 in singles play and 0-4 in doubles action against Georgia.
"We lost the matches to Indiana, but we played well and we were in position to win in about every one of those matches," said Bietau. "We're lacking some experience and maturity, and still learning how to close out matches. We had some good things happen even though we didn't win a lot of matches."
Highlighting the weekend was Niedermayerova's 6-2, 6-4 victory over Georgia's Nadja Gilchrist, who is ranked No. 67 in the nation.
Bietau in 27th Season
K-State coach Steve Bietau is in his 27th season, making him the second-longest tenured coach in school history, trailing only track and field coach Ward Haylett. Bietau is the all-time winningest Wildcat tennis coach at 231-317.
A Day for Kids
All kids in the sixth grade and below are eligible to participate in Sunday's USTA Campus Kids' Day. All participants will receive a K-State women's tennis t-shirt, plus a Planet Sub sandwich and a drink. Kids will have the chance to participate in a game of knockout on the court between matches. Young players can sign up at the door.
K-State Signs Trousilova
Bietau announced this fall the signing of Marketa Trousilova to a national letter of intent for the 2011-12 season.
Trousilova is a product of Teplice, Czech Republic, and has an accomplished record as a junior. She is a two-time finalist in a pair of USTA events and is a five-time champion of a Czech Regional master's tournament in doubles play. Trousilova also owns a title in an ITF Tournament in doubles action and advanced to a pair of finals in the TA Tournament in the Czech Republic.
K-State's tennis team will host its annual kickoff event on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m., at the Body First Tennis and Fitness Center. Wildcat tennis fans will have the chance to play mixed doubles with the KSU players. All ages are welcome.