Niedermayerova to conclude K-State career at nationals

Parker Robb | The Collegian Senior tennis player Petra Niedermayerova prepares a backhand return against Northern Iowa's Jieke Stroobant Friday at the Body First Tennis and Fitness Center. Petra led the Wildcats to victory over the Panthers with her 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Stroobant.

Senior Petra Niedermayerova has written her name all over the K-State history books during her time as a Wildcat, and she hasn’t stopped yet. Last week, No. 55 Niedermayerova was selected to compete in the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Singles Championships in Athens, Georgia. The senior from Brno, Czech Republic became the first Wildcat to be selected to compete at nationals four times.

Another Wildcat first came earlier this season when Niedermayerova recorded over 100 career singles match wins. Entering nationals, the senior will boast a record of 104-42.

“It’s a really nice feeling when I think about it but most of the time I really don’t think about it,” Niedermayerova said about her career wins mark.

Niedermayerova has faced many challenges during her time at K-State. One of her biggest challenges came this past season when, after nearly 30 years at the helm, Steve Bietau elected to step down as head coach. Though Liz Ullathorne was named interim head coach, with such a young squad, Niedermayerova stepped up into a leadership role.

“It’s great for (the freshmen),” Ullathorne said. “(Because) we have so many freshmen, we need someone to lead them and kind of show them the ropes. Especially with five of our six freshmen being foreign too, like Petra. So Petra and Amina (St. Hill) have done a great job in mentoring the freshmen.”

One perk that this 2013-14 season had was the opening of Mike Goss Tennis Stadium. The brand new facility was something Niedermayerova said she was appreciative of, despite only getting to play on it for one season. Before, the Wildcats had to travel to Wamego to play their “home” matches, but now they have some purple courts of their very own.

“It’s a huge difference, an incredible difference,” Niedermayerova said. “Many people said that we couldn’t actually call (Wamego) our home facility, because we had to drive there for half of an hour. It was really hard for the fans to get there.”

Not only does Niedermayerova hold the singles wins record, but the doubles record as well. A big reason for that was getting to play with her best friend and teammate, junior Amina St. Hill, this past season. The two went 9-6 together this season. Their chemistry off the court is something that they believed carried over to their play.

“Amina has really improved at doubles, just by playing with Petra,” Ullathorne said. “She’s really upped her game. I kind of joke a little bit ’cause sometimes I think they are like an old married couple; they bicker at each other and keep it real and it’s funny to watch. They have really good chemistry so I think that’s part of their success.”

It’s not only on the court that Niedermayerova, an economics major, has excelled. The two-time ITA All-American was named an academic first team All-Big 12 selection in three of her four seasons at K-State, along with being named a 2013 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American At-Large First Team athlete.

On Tuesday, Niedermayerova was named to the All-Big 12 first team for the fourth time in her career. The NCAA tournament begins on May 21.