September 20, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
K-State head women's tennis coach Steve Bietau has been waiting a long time.
While he's been bouncing back and forth with his team from the Wamego Recreation Complex to for the last five years, he now has a complex his team can call home.
The brand new Mike Goss Tennis Stadium, located just outside of the K-State Chester E. Peters Recreational Complex, celebrated its ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 7, and this weekend the complex will see its first action as K-State Tennis is set to host the K-State Fall Invitational beginning at 10 a.m. today with singles matches between K-State and UMKC.
"This facility enables us to look our tennis student athletes in the eye when we say the words, 'world-class student athlete experience,'" Athletics director John Currie said the morning of the ribbon cutting. "We knew immediately when we got here that this was a need. Our students at K-State are the best and support all of our programs, so this will provide them with the same kind of support that they provide volleyball, men's and women's basketball, baseball and football right here, because it's right here, right down the street. It's really going to change the dynamic and we know we're going to have a better home court advantage because of it."
Bietau is in his 30th season with the women's tennis team and is the career wins leader for a tennis coach in K-State history with 264 wins, breaking the 200-win mark in 2006. He has always been passionate about keeping tennis alive at K-State, and this year, with the new facility and six new freshmen on his 2013-14 squad, K-State tennis feels to be in an entirely new era.
"Every time I walk out onto these courts I think of how lucky we are to have a beautiful facility like this, I've probably done it 50 or 60 times now and the feeling doesn't go away," Bietau said. "Just being able to share this with them has been a really cool thing."
The new stadium is named after former K-State men's tennis player and 1981 alumni Mike Goss. Goss was a member of the varsity men's tennis team from 1978-81 and is currently a Managing Director for Bain Capital LLC in New York, New York. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Tennis Channel, a 24-hour cable network dedicated to tennis, and is also on the Executive Committee for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
"I've been very fortunate in my life and I was able to turn around and smile upon K-State when good fortune smiled upon me," Goss said during the dedication ceremony. "One of my most important elements of my life as a K-Stater was my affiliation with athletics, tennis in particular, and they've chosen to honor me in a very wonderful way.
"It was a truly remarkable experience for me in every respect, not only was it fun it was also character building. I developed life-long friendships, I learned life-long lessons from Coach Snodgrass and many of my teammates and it's just been a part of my identity that I'm so, so proud of."
Fans will have the opportunity to cheer on the Wildcats for the first time in the new stadium this morning at the K-State Invitational, the facility's first event.
With so many new faces on his 2013-14 squad, Bietau said he is looking forward to seeing how the season unfolds - especially the matches on its home territory.
"It's been pretty much preseason conditioning for two weeks, doing things that aren't always a lot of fun, so it's way too early to evaluate," Bietau said about the team so far this season. "With six freshmen and so many unknowns this year, we really don't know that much about the team yet. This first tournament is going to be our first competition, and we have two weekends in a row that we play. I think after that period of time we'll be able to have a little better sense of what we've got."
After the opening singles matches between K-State and UMKC, K-State will take on Omaha in doubles at 4 pm today. On Saturday, K-State will face Wichita State in singles at 12 pm, followed by K-State vs. UMKC in doubles at 3 pm and K-State doubles vs. Wichita State at 5 pm. Finally, on Sunday morning, K-State singles will finish the weekend against Omaha at 11:30 am.
Looking to close her collegiate campaign with K-State as one of the best tennis players in Wildcat history, senior Petra Niedermayerova said she is excited to compete on the new courts.
"The distance from the campus should make a difference when we start competing, especially in the Big 12 competitions," Niedermayerova said. "We really need support from the fans sometimes, it helps and distracts the other teams, so it's really important to us to get some people to these courts who wouldn't be able to make it to Wamego."
Niedermayerova is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation in singles and holds the K-State career record for singles wins with an 80-33 (.708) mark. Last season, she set the single-season school record for wins in singles action (32-10, .762) and a single-season school record for wins in doubles play (27-11, .711).
"When anybody gets into the top 10 or 15 in the country, playing at a really elite level, most folks don't realize how hard it is just to stay there," Bietau said. "So Petra is a talented, highly motivated, hard working student athlete. I expect her to keep doing those things and hope she has a great senior year."
From the world-class talent of Niedermayerova to the world-class facility of the Mike Goss Tennis Stadium, the 2013-14 tennis season is one full of promise for K-State fans, players and coaches.
"Coach Bietau has been so excited for these courts, he's been waiting for them for a long time," Niedermayerova said, "and I think it's just such a thrill for him to have this facility. I think he is the person who appreciates the most, I mean, I appreciate it as well, but I'm not the person who was waiting for it for a long, long time. I think he will have an extra motivation this year to get us as far as we can go and to show Manhattan our capabilities in Tennis."