October 18, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
Where K-State tennis senior Petra Niedermayerova has found success on the tennis courts, she has found equal success in the classroom.
One of the greatest tennis players in K-State history, not only is Niedermayerova ranked among the nation's best college tennis players at No. 12 in the preseason ITA national singles rankings, but she also earned the Big 12 Conference's inaugural Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for women's tennis last year as well as Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American At-Large First-Team honors.
"Petra can arguably be the best player in the history of Kansas State University tennis," K-State Athletics Director John Currie said. "She's a nationally ranked player, played into the top 15, she's the only player in our history that's played in the NCAA Tournament every single year and she's the best student athlete in the Big 12, as recognized by her academic award last year. She very much represents everything that K-State represents - an international student, high academics and high athletics achievement."
Balancing schoolwork with a busy tennis schedule is a balancing act that Niedermayerova has nearly perfected, and tennis head coach Steve Bietau said he has gotten used to it as well.
"She's always done a phenomenal job with both school and tennis," Bietau said, "and so we're just kind of used to it, we're just used to Petra being Petra."
Niedermayerova spent last summer in Washington, D.C., where the economics major interned full-time with the Heritage Foundation. It was a summer full of excitement, growth and learning for Niedermayerova, a native of the Czech Republic, and left her hungry to one day go back to the United States' capital.
"I got to be a part of a really solid program that has a lot of history," Niedermayerova explained. "It's a really complex internship, not only did we work in the office and with the research departments, we also also went to different social events. We visited the Capital Building, the Pentagon and we took a tour at Mt. Vernon. So there was a variety of things we did every day, most of the time we were in the office researching, computer work, it gave me an overall package of what I could be doing."
Growing up in Brno, Czech Republic, Niedermayerova's father, Ludek Niedermayer was formerly the vice-governor of the Czech National Bank. From a young age economics was an area that intrigued Niedermayerova, and having the opportunity to learn about the American government through her internship gave her a greater understanding of views and mentalities in the United States that differ from those of the European governments.
During her internship, she worked alongside Heritage Foundation leaders who are experts on foreign and domestic policy issues. Niedermayerova attended briefings, lectures and seminars and went on tours of some of the nation's most historic locations.
"It was just awesome because I gained information that I didn't know before as an international student," Niedermayerova said. "The organization that I worked for holds the conservative principles, the conservative ideas. For me, coming from Europe where even the most conservative people would be considered pretty liberal, I was evaluating a very different point of view and meeting people, very smart people, with a different perspective and learning from them and their many different ideas."
Niedermayerova's hard-working mentality that she put towards her internship and puts towards her studies can also be found in the fierce competitor she is each week on the tennis court.
"I think part of it is personality and part of it is my work ethic," Niedermayerova said about her successes on the tennis court so far. "I think, personally, I'm able to notice if something is going wrong. I feel that if I don't play my best and I know that my performance was bad, I don't feel good until I do something about it and improve it, and then with my work ethic, I'm just not satisfied if I don't give 100 percent."
Niedermayerova holds the K-State record for singles wins with an 83-35 (.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).
This season, Niedermayerova competed in the Riviera/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Women's All-American Championship where in the first round she beat No. 8 Krista Hardebeck of Stanford, 6-1 and 6-3. Despite her upset win, the following day Niedermayerova fell 6-1 and 6-0 to No. 27 ranked Beatrice Capra of Duke.
"The thing about Petra, or anyone who plays at the level that she does, is it's really hard to stay there, and even harder to move up," Bietau explained. "So 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. 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."
Today, K-State tennis begins competition in the main draw of the 2013 ITA Central Region Championship in Norman, Okla. Niedermayerova will take the court as the defending ITA Central singles champion after notching six straight singles wins at last year's event and earning an automatic bid into the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
Now into her senior campaign, her final year at K-State, and Niedermayerova has continued to keep busy every day working to achieve her goals.
"After college I'm applying to grad schools to get a Ph.D in economics, so this semester I need to finish all those applications, which is a lot of extra work for me. My goal for this year in school, I just want to keep my GPA and graduate. On the courts, I want to stay at a good level and continue to help my teammates."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.