Wildcats ready for first Big 12 Conference home match

MANHATTAN, Kan. - It’s more than three months and 14 matches into the season and Kansas State will finally play a Big 12 Conference match at home. The Wildcats play host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday at noon, in a match that’s likely to be played indoors at Ahearn Field House.  

After opening the season with a win against Drake, the Wildcats played 10 of the next 13 matches on the road and lost 10 consecutive matches before Wednesday. K-State (3-11, 1-4 Big 12) received a huge boost this week with a 5-2 win over Iowa State, snapping the skid and giving the Wildcats their first win on the road and in the Big 12.

The Wildcats look to carry the momentum into the match against Texas Tech (9-7, 2-4 Big 12) this weekend. 

K-State has the upper hand in recent matches, as winners in eight of the last 10 meetings with the Red Raiders. The Wildcats have also posted a 4-1 record in matches played in Manhattan, including three consecutive wins going into Saturday’s contest.

Texas Tech enters the match as winners of its last two matches and have torched the Big 12 north this season with a 2-1 record. The Red Raiders defeated Kansas and Missouri last weekend and are tied with Nebraska in a match that was postponed due to poor weather on March 25.

Saturday’s deciding factor may be the doubles competition. Kansas State has been solid when it has won the doubles point this season but has only managed the feat in five matches. K-State is 3-2 when winning the doubles point.

The Red Raiders have won the doubles point in three of their last four Big 12 matches and have gone 2-1 in those contests.

Kansas State, 8-7 in Big 12 doubles matches this season, is led by the tandem of Olga Klimova and Katerina Kudlackova. The Czech Republic-duo are 12-10 this season and have an impressive 4-1 record in Big 12 matches.

Saturday’s match marks the first of five remaining home matches for the Wildcats. K-State travels to Kansas next Wednesday for a bout with its in-state rival and close the regular season with four consecutive home duals.

LAST TIME OUT:  Kansas State snapped a 10-match losing streak and earned its first Big 12 Conference win after defeating the Iowa State Cyclones, 5-2, on Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats won for the first time since Feb. 16, and pushed their winning streak over Iowa State to 13 consecutive matches with the win. Kansas State rolled through doubles competition, winning in all three matches. Katerina Kudlackova and Olga Klimova earned their team-leading fourth conference doubles match win and defeated Jill Palen and Caitlin Loprinzi at No. 2, 8-1. The Wildcats won at the top three positions in singles play with Viviana Yrureta, Fernanda Da Valle and Tamar Kvaratskhelia earning straight set victories.

BEST IN CLASS:  Five Kansas State Wildcats earned recognition from the Big 12 office for their efforts in the classroom last semester. Katerina Kudlackova, Viviana Yrureta, Olga Klimova, Tereza Prochazkova and Natasha Vieira, were named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll after earning at least a 3.25 GPA last semester.   

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: K-State’s schedule is a doozy with 12 of 20 opponents ranked in the latest Fila/Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll. The Wildcats have faced nine opponents currently ranked in the top-40 and three opponents currently in the top-20. Kansas State has had a difficult time hanging with the top competition in the nation, posting an 0-9 mark against ranked opponents and an 0-2 record against opponents in the top-25. The Big 12 continues to be one of the top conferences in the nation with five teams garnering national recognition. Kansas State was 4-8 against nationally ranked opponents in the 2006-07 season.

DOUBLES JEOPARDY: Kansas State has a solid record when winning the doubles point this season, but they’ve only been able to accomplish the feat five times. In matches where K-State wins at least two out of three in doubles play and earns the doubles point, the Wildcats are 3-2. In matches where Wildcat opponents win the doubles point, Kansas State is 0-9. Kansas State won the doubles point 12 times last season, posting a 10-2 mark in those matches. The last time Kansas State won the doubles point was in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Iowa State. Kansas State’s last doubles point win in a losing effort was a 4-3 loss to Oklahoma on March 31.

BUMPY ROAD:  The Wildcats have had success in the friendly confines of Ahearn Field House this season and have posted a 2-1 record in matches there. Overall, the Wildcats are 2-2 in Manhattan. K-State is 1-8 in away matches and 0-1 in neutral site match ups. The Wildcats earned their first road victory of the season in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. Previously, Kansas State’s last road win was a, 4-3, win over Nebraska on April 23, to close out last year’s regular season. The team’s last neutral site win came against Oklahoma (April 27) in the first round of the 2006 Big 12 Championships.   

TOP CATS:  Kansas State’s Viviana Yrureta and Tamar Kvaratskhelia garnered regional recognition for their performance last fall. Yrureta was tabbed as the No. 23 player in the Central Region after posting an 8-5 record. Yrureta put together a seven-match winning-streak and was an impressive 8-2 before running into a string of nationally-ranked opponents to finish fall play. Kvaratskhelia continues to be one of the top Wildcat players notching five wins in the fall. Kvaratskhelia was ranked as the No. 28 player in the Central Region rankings.

WINNER’S STATE OF BEING:  Despite posting an 10-13 mark in singles this season, Tamar Kvaratskhelia has proven to be one of the top Wildcats during the last two and a half seasons. Kvaratskhelia was the first Wildcat in school history to surpass the 30-win plateau and set the single season winning percentage mark at .816 with her 31-7 freshman season in 2005. She followed that campaign with another winning season in 2006, notching 17 more victories. Kvaratskhelia’s 58-34 record puts her five wins shy of the top-six in all-time singles wins. Her .630 career singles winning percentage is third all-time behind Yana Dorodnova (.655) and 1994 All-American Karina Kuregian (741).