Steinberg Brings New Enthusiasm to K-State Tennis

Finishing the tournament with 14 overall singles victories and three doubles wins, the Wildcats concluded a fall filled with change.
"I think the fall went really well," said Steinberg as she leaned back in her chair. A few unopened boxes remained in the new coach's office. "I think Houston was our best tournament as a team. It's nice for us as coaches, and for the girls too, to see the reward for all their hard work because they really did work hard this fall. They bought in to everything and they trusted everything. It might not have been pretty at first, but they kept with it and trusted our plan and that paid off. They all played really well last weekend, and you can really see the progression from August until now."
While it's not always easy adjusting to the style of a new head coach, the Wildcat tennis team has adjusted to Steinberg and her new coaching style with ease - something that, most likely, comes as no surprise to those who know Steinberg. 
With a calm, cool personality, Steinberg is laid back but serious when it comes to coaching. She's the type of coach who, with just one conversation, you can tell she enjoys her job, enjoys her team and is enjoying being a part of the Wildcat family. 
"It's been really great," Steinberg began about her past four months in the Little Apple. "I feel like I've been here forever now. I kind of just dove in 100 percent."
A native of Tel Aviv, Israel, Steinberg has found a way to balance hard work and fun with her team, and in doing so, has put her team on the right track to success. 
On the court, the Wildcats are training like never before. With the early morning practices, the team said this season marked the hardest it has ever worked.
"It's my senior year so I've been here a while now, but I think this is the most productive fall season that I've ever experienced at K-State," said Amina St. Hill who finished the fall with a 6-4 record in singles play. "The team is improving a lot, we've been working so hard. It's a lot of individual work, a lot more running, but I feel a lot stronger than I usually do at this point. It's been great."
While the team may be training harder than ever, Steinberg knows balance is key. She believes having fun with her team is as important as training hard, and the team enjoys each other's company just as much off the court as they do on it.
"It's important to do fun things off the court too," said Steinberg. "We did put a lot on them in the fall. Obviously they have fun in practice, and it's not just hard stuff like running and waking up early, but we did have early mornings every day, so that gets to you. It is important to us to make sure that, along with training, they're also having fun. I know they need to be happy to play well."
From team bonding trips to Kansas City to evenings filled with friendly competition at the bowling alley, the team appreciates that balance of intensity and fun.
"Coach Danielle is a very hard-working person," continued St. Hill.  "She always wants us to give 110 percent, and I think that's one of the best qualities you can have in a coach; one that's always trying to push you harder but one who always makes practice fun. She makes everybody love being there. It's a gift to have a coach who makes everything fun but also makes her players want to give it their all. 
"She wants to make sure K-State really is the best four years of our lives, and that's something that we all hope for. So of course we want to work even harder for her when she does so much for us"
Overall this season, Steinberg led the Wildcats to a 49-40 record in singles play and a 14-24 record in doubles action in four competitions. 
Sophomore transfer Sara Castellano and sophomore returnees Iva Bago and Palma Juhasz finished the fall leading the Wildcats with seven singles wins followed closely by sophomores Livia Cirnu, freshman Laura Hopton and St. Hill with six wins this fall.
Though the fall season has concluded, Steinberg said she hopes her team will continue its high level of training during the offseason. She said with fall and winter breaks coming up, it is easy for players to fall out of regular training habits.
However, according to St. Hill, the team's lone senior, she and her teammates have bought in to Steinberg's new mentality and plan on making this offseason better than ever before.  
"As a team, we always want to become better and have higher goals," explained St. Hill. "I think we're ready to work hard this postseason because we're really excited for the upcoming season. I've never been this excited for a season to start, and that's because of how our team is becoming better."
A former collegiate athlete herself (Arizona, 2005-09), Steinberg knows how to relate to her players, and in doing so, she's earned their trust. 
The fall of 2014 marked the beginning of an exciting new era for K-State Tennis, and the program is on the right path to moving forward. 
"They're just great," Steinberg said about her team. "We got very lucky, because I know coaches can come in to a new team and the chemistry isn't always there, so it can be tough, but that's just not the case here. They're such great kids. Everywhere I go on campus or with the athletics department, people tell me how my team is so nice, and how they're such great kids. They're a fun group to be around. We all kind of share the same mentality, we just get each other's jokes."
 
The Wildcats will open spring competition with a home meet on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m., against Northern Iowa.
 

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