Wildcats Host Drake in Season Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State hosts the Drake Bulldogs in its season opener at Ahearn Field House on Saturday, beginning at noon. The Wildcats are looking for their third consecutive season-opening win and fifth straight over the Bulldogs.

The Wildcats finished the 2006 campaign with an 11-10 record and a No. 54 national ranking, but failed to make the NCAA tournament.

Kansas State kicks off its 2007 quest against a Bulldog team that has lost three consecutive dual matches to start the season, including two against ranked opponents.

The Wildcats concluded pre-season play last weekend as the team competed at the Georgia Invitational. Maria Perevoshchikova returned to the court for K-State and tallied two wins in her first action since missing the fall tournament slate with an injury.

Olga Klimova and Katerina Kudlackova also start the season with strong momentum after earning a pair of singles wins.

Viviana Yrureta, who missed the entire 2006 season with an ankle injury, has been one of the top Wildcats this season and leads the squad with nine singles wins. Yrureta won her opening round match-up at Georgia before falling to No. 20 and top-seeded Darya Ivanov (Georgia) in a closely contested match.

Kansas State returns five players who compiled winning records last season including Fernanda Da Valle, who won a team-high 22 matches, and Tamar Kvaratskhelia, who won 17 to push her two-year, career total to 48.

Kansas State’s strength this season may be the play of its doubles teams. The Wildcats have used 12 different combinations so far, but look to be set headed into dual action.

Klimova and Kudlackova will likely be one of the team’s highly competitive duos, compiling a 5-3 record thus far and notching a win over Troy’s No. 46 duo Rawia Elsisi and Claudia Strauss last weekend.

Kvaratskhelia and Perevoshchikova are 1-1 this season after earning their first win last weekend. The pair combined for an 11-9 record in 2006. K-State’s third pairing is likely to be Viviana Yrureta and Fernanda Da Valle, who are 1-1 in matches this spring.

LAST TIME OUT:  The Wildcats opened the semester at the Georgia Invitational Tournament on Jan.  19-21. Olga Klimova, Katerina Kudlackova and Maria Perevoshchikova all collected two wins in the three day tournament attended by Mississippi State, Troy and host school Georgia. Klimova and Kudlackova teamed up to defeat Troy’s No. 46 duo Rawia Elsisi and Claudia Strauss. 

SERIES HISTORY: Kansas State holds a slim 5-4 series edge after taking last year’s meeting in Manhattan. K-State’s win to open the 2006 season moved the Wildcats to 3-0 at home against the Bulldogs. The Wildcats have taken the last four meetings dating back to 1995.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Drake (0-3, 0-0 MVC) enters Satuday’s contest in the midst of a three-game skid that includes losses to two teams ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association pre-season poll. The Bulldogs fell to No. 43 Indiana and Tulsa on Jan. 20 before dropping a 4-1 decsion to No. 59 Kansas on Jan. 21. Drake is led by first-year head coach Urska Juric, formerly the assitant coach at Missouri. Veronika Leszayova leads the Bulldogs with a 2-1 record in dual play while assuming the No. 1 and No. 2 position this season. Drake’s doubles teams are a combined 0-9 in dual play, having lost the doubles point in each of the team’s first three matches.