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NETTERS UP TO 39th IN NATION; DIAMOND 'CATS OFF TO BAYLOR

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State had been winning tennis matches, but coach Steve Bietau would be the first to tell you that while the competition was decent, it wasn't of Big 12 quality.

Then the Wildcats put their 9-1 record on the line against No. 10 Baylor last week and Kansas State ended a decade-long drought against the Bears with a 4-3 victory.

It was Baylor's first loss in Big 12 play in four years, and first loss on their home courts in seven seasons.

"It was a significant win for our program in that it was against Baylor, but it also validated our start to the year," said Bietau. "What we had done by winning some early matches was nice, but how tough were some of those matches? This showed that we were capable of winning a match against one of the best teams in the United States. It drew some positive attention to our program, and the players were obviously thrilled."

There was one problem, however.

K-State followed that Friday victory over the No. 10 team in the nation with a 7-0 loss to No. 63 ranked Texas Tech.

"We didn't handle the fatigue part of it and we learned a huge lesson about how tough the Big 12 was and how you better be ready to play," said Bietau. "Tech is not a great team, but is a team that is difficult to beat. They provide you the opportunity to beat yourself, and that's exactly what we did."

The grueling Big 12 slate continues this weekend with the Wildcats scheduled to play at the Wamego Recreation Complex on Friday at 2 p.m. against No. 26 Texas (3-0, 8-4), and at noon on Saturday against No. 25 Texas A&M (2-1, 8-3).

"It's like what Frank (Martin) says about Big 12 basketball," Bietau said. "The league is so tough. If you don't play well, you have no chance to win. In tennis, the Big 12 is very solid at the top by national standards, but what has really improved are those teams in the middle that are so much better."

With its win over Baylor, the Wildcats (10-2, 1-1) jumped from No. 53 in the national polls to No. 39 heading into the weekend, which is the highest the program has been ranked since being No. 33 in 2004.

That ranking will be tested this weekend as the Purples are 0-18 in all-time matches with the Longhorns, and 0-16 against the Aggies.

K-State is paced at the top of the lineup by freshman Petra Niedermayerova, who is 10-2 this spring playing No. 1 singles.

"As a freshman, I don't think people realize how tough that is. This is a brutal schedule because every team has a top No. 1 player," said Bietau. "She has a maturity level that reminds me of Maria Rosenberg. She doesn't beat herself. She is very mature competitively and personally."

Antea Huljev, the lone senior on the team, is playing at No. 2 after two seasons playing No. 1.

"That experience of the last two years has helped her," said Bietau of Huljev's record of 10-6 this season. "She's provided what you want from your senior in the terms of good leadership."

Bietau said he wasn't certain of the order, but the remainder of the lineup would include Karla Bonacic, Ana Gomez Aleman, Petra Chuda, Nina Sertic and Carmen Borau Ramos.

BIG 12 RANKED HIGH: In the latest ITA rankings, Baylor is No. 9, Oklahoma No. 18, Texas A&M No. 25, Texas No. 26, K-State No. 39, Nebraska No. 41, Texas Tech No. 49 and Missouri No. 75.

BAT CATS OFF TO BAYLOR: K-State's baseball nine opens a three-game series at Baylor on Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by games on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Baylor lost a Big 12 opening series to Texas Tech last weekend two games to one, and stands at 14-7 on the year.

K-State is 12-7 after being swept by Texas last week, which included losing late-inning leads twice that resulted in a pair of extra-inning losses.

The Wildcats had productive mound starts from Kyle Hunter, Matt Applegate and Kayvon Bahramzadeh, but a total of eight relievers allowed seven runs with 15 walks and two hit batters to just eight strikeouts.

K-State also made seven errors in the field, and at the plate hit just .201 for the weekend and scored in just four of the 33 innings played with only one extra-base hit.

K-State's team batting average of .252 is ninth in the league. With an average of .358, Nick Martini is the lone Wildcat to be hitting over .300.

The Wildcats' team ERA of 3.78 ranks seventh in the Big 12. Six K-State regular pitchers have ERAs of below 3.00 - starters Hunter (2-1, 2.12), Applegate (3-1, 2.53) and Bahramzadeh (1-0, 2.70), plus relievers Evan Marshall (2-0, 1.77), James Allen (1-1, 1.26) and Jared Moore (0-0, 1.42).

Baylor will counter with a team batting average of .301, but a staff ERA of a lofty 4.99 ERA.

    
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