Steinberg eager, says team is ‘playing their best’ as Wildcats head to Big 12 Championship

Head Coach Danielle Steinberg watches her team during the doubles portion of the K-State vs. Iowa State Women's Tennis match on March 22, 2015 at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium. The Wildcats took a loss of 4-2 against Iowa State. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

The K-State women’s tennis team returns to Waco, Texas and the Hurd Tennis Center today – just one week after facing Baylor in the regular season finale – for the Big 12 Women’s Tennis Championship.

Despite a six-game losing skid, K-State head coach Danielle Steinberg says the No. 9-seeded Wildcats (8-16, 1-6) are playing at a high level ahead of their matchup with No. 8 Iowa State.

“We’ve played probably our best tennis all season in these last two or three weeks,” Steinberg said. “We’re peaking at the right moment. It shows that the girls are working hard, because no matter what adversity we face they keep working harder each day. It paid off, because the girls are playing their best tennis right now.”

Iowa State (8-14, 2-7) escaped Manhattan last month with a 4-3 victory. The Cyclones are led by Ksenia Pronina, who is 10-4 this spring.

“With Iowa State, we almost feel like it is a redemption match,” Steinberg said. “We are going to come out fired up to try and get revenge. I know they will come out confident because they played a great match here. It’s probably going to be a pretty close match.”

The Wildcats are lead by sophomores Palma Juhasz, Livia Cirnu, Iva Bago and freshman Carolina Costamagna. The Hungarian native Juhasz has set career marks this season in singles play with a 17 wins.

“Palma had a couple rough matches a couple weeks ago, and we fixed a few things and talked about it,” Steinberg said. “Now she finally feels comfortable and is confident in her game and that shows in practice.”

Bago has set a career high in wins herself with 16 this season. The native of Croatia is 9-8 this spring, including a 4-2 record at the No. 2 singles slot.

Cirnu will look to surpass her win total from last year with a 17th win.

Costamagna was able to upset No. 43 Breunna Addison of Texas last weekend in Austin, Texas. The freshman from Argentina has only played in seven matches this season, but Steinberg has been pleased with her contributions.

“She started basically mid-season with us,” Steinberg said. “She needed that five or six matches to get used to college tennis, to learn the game here; and I think she finally feels comfortable and it shows in her matches. She’s competitive with every No. 1 Big 12 player and has won some. So we’re happy with that.”

In doubles play, the duo of Juhasz and Costamagna has put itself on a pedestal this season. The pair is ranked No. 81 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings with a record of 7-5 this season.

The winner of today’s match will face top-seeded Baylor in the next round of the Big 12 Championship.

“We want to be in the moment and appreciate where we are right now,” Steinberg said. “We always say that when we have fun that we play our best tennis. I just really want the girls to have fun and compete out there.”