Wildcats Set to Face Iowa State in First Round of Big 12 Tournament

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- K-State opens the Big 12 Women's Tennis Championship this Thursday when it takes on No. 8 seeded Iowa State in the 8/9 matchup. The first round contest is set for 10 a.m. at the Greenwood Tennis Center on the Oklahoma State campus.

The Wildcats (10-13, 1-8 Big 12) last saw the Cyclones (14-9, 2-7 Big 12) on April 8 in Ames, a match Iowa State won, 4-2.

"The Iowa State loss in Ames was a painful one for the team, so I think we are excited to play them again in the first round, and get the possibility to redeem ourselves," explained K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg. "We have been playing very well since that trip, with much better doubles play, and I am hoping we can piece it all together on Thursday."

In the first matchup between the two teams, K-State lost the doubles point but earned wins by Carolina Costamagna and Millie Stretton in singles. In the No. 3 position, Costamagna defeated Alejandra Galvis 7-5, 6-3 while Stretton beat Regina Espindola 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series against Iowa State, 30-12, and are 2-0 against the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship, including a 4-1 victory in last year's first round. In that win, K-State overcame a loss of the doubles point by using four singles wins to capture the match.

This year, junior Palma Juhasz and redshirt sophomore Sara Castellano are leading the Wildcats in doubles play. The duo holds a 7-2 record after joining forces in mid-February, including wins in all three of their finished matches in Big 12 action.

In singles, freshman Stretton leads the way with 14 wins during the dual season, competing in every position but the No. 1 spot. She has captured three of her last four matches, with those wins coming against Iowa State, West Virginia and KU.

Livia Cirnu is second on the team with 13 dual singles victories across the No. 4-6 positions. The junior earned a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Galvis in last year's first round to seal the win for the Wildcats.

"A conference tournament is always a fun experience for the players, and even more so with the Big 12 being such a strong tennis conference," said Steinberg. "Having all the teams in the same location, with a really high level of competitive atmosphere, I think it is one of the coolest experiences in a college athlete's career."

The winner of Thursday's match will go on to face the regular season champions and No. 1 seeded Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Friday at noon.