K-State tennis starts 2018 season at Big 5 Challenge

Women's tennis player, freshman Ioana Gheorghita, focuses on the tennis ball while waiting to rally it back to her teammate during a practice earlier this month. (Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

With a new season emerging, new head coach Jordan Smith and the Kansas State tennis team head to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the Big 5 Challenge. The four-day tournament will host 13 teams from four different conferences, giving the Wildcats some early exposure to top-ranked teams.

Day One

The Wildcats started off on Thursday night playing three doubles matches against Arizona State.

Junior Ines Mesquita and Sophomore Anna Turco fell short 3-6 to the No. 50 ranked Savannah Slaysman and Cali Jankowski.

The sophomore pairing Margot Decker and Maria Linares lost 2-6 Arizona State’s No. 8 duo Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh.

Then, the Wildcats’ youngest pairing, sophomore Rosanna Maffei and freshman Ioana Gheorghita, fell short 1-6 to Tereza Kolarova and Sammi Hampton.

Day Two

Friday proved to be a much more successful day for the Wildcat tennis squad in the singles category. The doubles squad continued to work out some kinks during the day two match-ups. In both categories, the Wildcats competed against the University of Virginia.

Linares picked up her first win against Virginia’s Amber O’Dell, going 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (12).

Freshman Maria Ponomareva snatched a win against Maya Das.

Turco also earned a singles win after defeating UVA’s Camille Favero, 7-5 and 6-3.

While the tennis squad had three wins to start the day, the wheels on the wagon seemed to fall off as the day went on.

Mesquita, Decker, Maffei and Gheorghita all lost to their opponents.

In the doubles category, Mesquita and Turco fell 4-6 to Meghan Kelley and Chloe Gullickson. Gheorghita and Ponomareva lost 5-7 to Hunter Bleser and O’Dell.

The Wildcats finished 3-4 in singles and 0-2 in doubles.

Day Three

Turco picked up a second singles win Saturday after defeating Missouri’s Ellie Wright, 7-5, 6-4. Maffei also defeated Missouri’s Taylor Grober, 6-3, 6-3. Gheorghita earned her first win as a Wildcat defeating Missouri’s Marta Oliveira in the first set 5-2 before Oliveira was forced to retire during the second.

While K-State picked up three singles win the start the day, they ended with four singles losses.

Linares, Decker, Mesquita and Ponomarvera lost to the Tigers’s Serena Nash, Mackenzy Middlebrooks, Lisa Fukutoku and Vivien Abraham, respectively.

Day Four

Linares and Maffei rounded out the last day of the tournament on a high note winning their singles matches. Linares defeated Hattingh, 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10), and Maffei beat Hampton, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (2).

“It was great to be back competing with the team this weekend. We were able to get a lot of quality matches in,” Smith told K-State Sports. “I thought we competed hard each day and got a little better throughout the tournament. There were good things from our team and some areas that we need to improve on. I am looking forward to our next competition.”

While Linares and Maffei came out victorious on Sunday, the rest of the squad was not as fortunate.

Decker lost to Georgia’s Vivian Wolff, 4-6, 4-6. Gheorghita also lost to Bullgod Annette Goulak, 6-2, 6-0. Ponomareva lost in three sets to the University of Kansas’s Sonia Smagina 5-7, 6-4, (1-0).

Turco also lost in three sets to Slaysman, 6-2, 2-6, 1-0, (7). Mesquita lost to Kolarova, 6-2, 6-3.

The Wildcat tennis squad will take the courts again next weekend Sept. 28-30 at the Hoosier Fall Classic in Bloomington, Indiana.

Hi, I'm Molly Hackett and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in broadcast journalism in May 2020. When I worked for the Collegian, I had a variety of different jobs, including managing editor and sports editor. Additionally, I served a one year term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. I also worked for KKSU-TV and appeared as an anchor on MHK All Day during my final semester at K-State. In my free time, I like to spend time with the people closest to me, travel, drink coffee and take naps.