With just one match under its belt this season the tennis team took to Durham, North Carolina, on Saturday and Sunday to compete in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.
The Wildcats struggled to carry the momentum from their 5-0 victory over Penn State last Monday into the weekend matches, falling to No. 5 Duke on Saturday by a score of 4-0 and then dropping a close match to Mississippi State on Sunday 4-2.
Kansas State (now 1-2) had Duke (4-0) on the verge of giving up their first point of the season as the doubles competition came down to the final match.
Sophomore Karine-Marion Job and senior Ines Mesquita took Blue Devil duo of senior Meible Chi and junior Hannah Zhao to the wire, coming back from an early deficit to tie the set at 6-6, forcing a massive tiebreaker with the winner taking the doubles point. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the comeback bid came up just short as Chi and Zhao prevailed in the tiebreaker 7-6, giving Duke the momentum to start the match, leading 1-0.
Before that tie-breaking match, K-State started off the doubles session on the wrong foot as the No. 54 ranked junior pair Margot Decker and Anna Turco fell to Duke junior Kelly Chen and freshman Chloe Beck 6-1. The junior duo of Lilla Barzo and Maria Linares were able to get the Wildcats right back into the thick of things though, defeating the young pair of sophomore Margaryta Bilokin and freshman Yasmine Mansouri by a score of 6-2. It all set up the big match with Job and Mesquita, where K-State ended coming up just short.
It was all Duke in the singles portion of the day after the doubles matches wrapped up, with K-State falling to three of the top 80 players in the ITA. No. 25 Beck started the singles off with a swift victory over Mesquita, taking both sets 6-1.
After that No. 77 Chi finished off Wildcat Rosanna Maffei 6-2 and 6-1, and finally No. 67 Bilokin defeated Decker in one of the closer singles matches of the day, 6-2 and 6-4. The three singles victories for Duke gave the Blue Devils the 4-0 sweep of the Wildcats, handing K-State their first loss of the year.
With the loss on Saturday K-State was matched up with Mississippi State (4-1) on Sunday morning. The Bulldogs also had a tough loss on Saturday, falling 4-3 to Tulsa.
From the start, Mississippi State was dominant as the Wildcats were put into a 3-0 hole after falling in each of their doubles matches and their first two singles matches.
The doubles were kicked off by a ranked match up that saw the No. 43 ranked pair of sophomore Tamara Racine and junior Magda Adaloglou takedown K-State’s No. 54 duo Turco and Decker in quick fashion 6-0. That match was followed by another big victory for the Bulldogs as the No. 45 duo of sophomore Emma Antonaki and freshman Alexandra Mikhailuk defeated K-State’s Barzo and Linares 6-1, putting Mississippi State up 1-0 after doubles play.
K-State dug themselves into an even deeper hole at the start of singles play with Linares falling to No. 84 Antonaki in two sets with each set ending at 6-2. Sophomore Ioana Gheorghita fell to freshman Marta Falceto 6-2, 6-3 to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.
The Wildcats would not go away quietly though, pushing Mississippi State to the brink in the final singles matches.
Decker kicked off the comeback attempt for the Wildcats with a big three-set victory over Adaloglou 6-2, 2-6 and 6-2 in the final set, giving the Wildcats life, down 3-1.
Mesquita got K-State even closer with a two-set victory over freshman Valeria Nikolaev 6-3 and 7-5, at which point the Wildcats needed just two more singles victories to complete the comeback.
Plans of a comeback came up just short for the Wildcats as Maffei fought Mikhailuk into a third set, but couldn’t finish the match off, falling 6-3, 1-6, 0-6. Giving the match to Mississippi State 4-2 and dropping the Wildcats to 1-2 on the season.
After going 0-2 at the ITA Kickoff Weekend, K-State will look to rebound on Friday as they travel to Wichita, to take on the Shockers (1-2) who also lost their past two matches. That matchup is set for 1:00 p.m. at the Wichita Country Club.