Wildcats Make Fall Debut With KSU Invitational

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The state of Kansas will open its borders and host a clash of schools from four neighboring states as the Wildcat tennis team hosts the Kansas State Invitational at the Washburn Tennis Facility in Manhattan this weekend. Arkansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Tulsa will square off in a hidden-dual format tournament and begin play with doubles competition on Friday at 9 a.m.

Friday and Saturday's competition will feature two rounds of doubles beginning at 9 a.m., followed by singles play at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon. On Sunday, there will be one round of doubles competition followed by one round of singles play.

THE FIELD:  The four-team field features two teams that finished the 2006 season ranked in the top-75 and two teams from the Big 12 Conference. Arkansas finished the 2006 campaign as the No. 47 team after being defeated by Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State finished play after a second round loss in the Big 12 Tournament to Texas A&M and ended the 2006 season as the No. 54 team in the nation, narrowly missing a bid for NCAA Tournament play. Joining Kansas State from the Big 12 is north division rival Missouri. The Wildcats topped the Tigers, 5-2, on April 9 in Manhattan last season and will tangle in Columbia on March 3, 2007. Tulsa, another K-State opponent from 2006 and the upcoming season, will represent Conference USA.

WHO TO WATCH FOR - ARKANSAS:  Arkansas boasts an impressive lineup and features two players who topped 25 wins last season. Ela Kaluder, ranked No. 83 in the first poll of the season, was 26-14 last season and Aurelija Miseviciute finished the 2006 season with a 29-4 mark. Lady Razorback Audrey Bordeleau won the B’ Flight Consolation at the William and Mary Invitational earlier this fall.

WHO TO WATCH FOR - MISSOURI: Amanda Pratzel provided an immediate spark for the Tigers after transferring in at the semester from Missouri State. Pratzel went 15-6 at No. 3, 4, 5, and 6, in spring dual play to lead all Missouri players. Chrissy Svetlic, another transfer, was 9-8 in the spring and joined Pratzel as the only Tigers with winning records in dual play. Pratzel and Erika Josbena are 8-0 in fall doubles play this season, winning the doubles championship at the St. Louis Billiken Fall Classic and the Minnesota Gopher Invitational. Texas A&M transfer Raquel Wagner captured the singles flight crown at the Gopher Invitational.

WHO TO WATCH FOR - KANSAS STATE: Kansas State returns seven of eight players from a team that finished 11-10 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12 north division. Fernanda Da Valle led the Wildcats with 22 wins last season but won’t see action this weekend as she recovers from an injury. Tamar Kvaratskhelia, who played extensively at No. 1 for the Wildcats last season, will try to improve on her 17-14 mark from a year ago. Olga Klimova and Tereza Prochazkova have made huge strides during the off-season. Viviana Yrureta has been impressive throughout fall practice and is ready to perform after missing nearly all of her first two years of collegiate tennis.

WHO TO WATCH FOR - TULSA: Santie Delport tallied 28 wins last season at the No. 2 position behind Kindsay Grimes, who won 22 matches at No. 1 for the Golden Hurricane, and both return in 2006-07. Thalia Diaz-Barriga is off to a fast start after winning the White Draw at the Baylor Invitational on September 17.

WILDCAT DEBUT:  Kansas State’s Natasha Vieira will make her collegiate tennis debut this weekend. The freshman from Carabobo, Venezuela, is the lone Wildcat newcomer. The remaining seven Wildcat players all saw action during the 2005-06 season.