K-State Set to Compete in First Home Match, Hosts Colorado

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- After back-to-back weekends on the road to start the spring season, Kansas State women's tennis will open its home schedule on Friday with a 2 p.m. match against former Big 12 foe Colorado at Body First Wellness and Recreation Center. 

Friday's match will be the third time the Wildcats (2-1) have met the Buffaloes (3-2) in regular season dual match play since Colorado joined the Pac-12. K-State won the first match two years ago, 4-1, while the Buffaloes took last year's meeting, 4-0.

Colorado's two losses on the season have come at the hands of then-ranked No. 64 New Mexico and No. 69 Denver. Tina Bokuhua, 3-0 in dual match singles this year, leads the Buffaloes in the No. 1 position and is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week.

"Colorado is a tough team," explained K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg. "They play very similar to the teams we saw last weekend, so I feel that we are ready for their game style."

This weekend, the Wildcats will try to win their second straight home opener under Steinberg. In 2015, K-State trumped Northern Iowa, 6-1.

The Wildcats are coming off a 1-1 weekend in Pullman, Washington. They dropped their first match, against the Pac-12's Washington State, before taking down North Texas, 5-2, last Saturday.

"We are very excited to play our first home match," Steinberg said. "I think starting with a few challenging road matches was actually good for us because we had to adjust to tough playing conditions and we were pushed and tested. Playing at home gives us a big advantage, beyond the fact we do not need to travel. The girls feel comfortable in our home facilities and hopefully we can get a good push from our crowd. Playing at home is always exciting, but especially early on in the season."

K-State's two freshmen, Ana Garcia Navas and Millie Stretton, have both started well in dual match play. They each have a 3-0 mark in singles and are 2-1 in doubles with their respective partners. Garcia Navas moved into the No. 2 singles position in last weekend's win over North Texas -- up from No. 3 -- while Stretton has been paired with Carolina Costamagna in the No. 1 doubles group.

In addition, Sara Castellano, Livia Cirnu and Costamagna are all 2-1 in dual match singles to help the Wildcats get out to a 2-1 start.

In their two wins so far this season, the Cats have taken the doubles point to start the outing.

"Our key point are always the same, regardless of the opponent," Steinberg explained. "We have to come out with a lot of energy, play aggressive doubles, and carry the energy into singles. Our team knows that if they give everything they have every time they step on the court, good things will happen, and I think we are improving this fighting mentality every weekend."

After their match against Colorado, K-State will take on another former Big 12 rival when they face Missouri (4-0) on February 10 at Green Tennis Center in Columbia, Missouri.