K-State Tennis Great Comes Home
Yana Dorodnova (1996-98) visited Manhattan for the first time in over a decade as she was inducted into the K-State Sports Hall of Fame on October 11, 2013.
"It's such a joy," Dorodnova said. "I enjoyed every minute. I got to catch up with Steve (Bietau) and meet with his team now. I want to come back and just be here again! It's so nice."
In 1998, Dorodnova advanced further than any Wildcat in school history in the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Singles Championships as she made it to the quarterfinals in the event. She was a 1998 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American after finishing her senior season 25-10, while she completed her Wildcat career with a 57-30 singles record to rank fourth in school history with a .655 winning percentage.
The Moscow, Russia, native was a two-time All-Big 12 singles honoree, All-Big 12 doubles recipient, ITA Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big 12 First team. She left her footprints on the women's tennis program and, along with her induction to the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, has become a competitor in which K-State tennis players to look up to.
"She's certainly deserving," tennis head coach Steve Bietau said about Dorodnova's induction to the hall of fame. "She meant a lot to our program and she did some pretty special things at a time where we didn't enjoy the level of support we have right now."
Despite the fact Dorodnova didn't have the tennis support and facilities student-athletes today can enjoy, she looks back at her time at K-State with fondness.
"I can remember the end of my senior year more vividly because it was the end of my collegiate tennis career," explained Dorodnova on her favorite memories at K-State, "so every match was special because I knew that is was coming to an end. I think that the team playing in KC at the Big 12 Championship at that nice facility there has been a very, very nice memory. There were so many, though, I don't think I could have just one particular one. It's just primarily all good packaged into one big memory."
Bietau, now in his 30th year coaching K-State's tennis team, has seen it all as a head coach, but perhaps the biggest change to the program came just last fall as the Wildcats opened the state-of-the-art Mike Goss Tennis Facility.
The purple tennis courts, located just east of the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex, and bleachers were a pleasant surprise to Dorodnova during her visit last October.
"I went to see the team's practice and I was very impressed," Dorodnova said. "I wish that was here when I was here! Obviously it will promote the sport more, and they've got those great bleachers. It's hard to watch the matches without them."
However Bietau said Dorodnova's excitement is not uncommon and other former tennis student athletes have also expressed their excitement about the program's growth.
"Most of the alumni, when they come back and see that facility, are pretty wide-eyed," Bietau said. "You know, there's some, 'Boy, I wish we had that when we were here,' but I think overall, they're pretty happy for what's happening with the program now."
The program is growing, and has the opportunity to shine against tough competition this weekend as it opens its spring with the ITA Kickoff at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Beginning at 8 a.m. today, No. 55 K-State will take on No. 51 Arkansas for the first matches of the tournament followed by competition against either No. 74 Elon or host school No. 4 Georgia tomorrow morning.
Senior Petra Niedermayerova highlights the Wildcats this season as she enters the spring ranked No. 42 nationally in singles.
"Steve brought me up to speed with how successful they've been recently, and how they have one player, Petra, that is doing really, really well," Dordnova said. "That is exciting to see. I watched her practice and she looks like a very, very strong player. I hope she's going to finish her senior year a little stronger."
Niedermayerova is the only Wildcat tennis competitor in school history to earn two ITA All-American honors and, entering her final season at K-State, she holds the record for career singles win with a record of 89-37 (.706).
Along with Niedermayerova, junior Amina St. Hill will also be looked upon this weekend to help K-State. St. Hill holds a 26-34 career record coming off of a 2013 fall season where she went 6-6.
The spring season is a busy one for the Wildcats, and after this weekend's competition, the team returns home to the Body First Tennis and Fitness Center in Manhattan for a four-match homestand beginning Friday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m., and continuing Saturday, Feb. 1, at 12 p.m.
For more information on K-State women's tennis and the upcoming matches, click here.
K-State's head tennis coach Steve Bietau helps Yana Dorodnova into her jacket during the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Alumni Center in Manhattan, Kansas on October 11, 2013. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)