Tennis team secures wins against Drake, Denver

At the net, junior Ioana Gheorghita watches for the tennis ball. K-State hosted Iowa State and KU in their Fall Invitational on Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium. (Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

The tennis team started a homestand against Drake on Friday, where the Wildcats had an impressive showing. K-State swept Drake and only dropped two sets in nine matches.

The Wildcats had a strong showing in doubles competition. The No. 46 ranked duo of sophomore Karine-Marion Job and junior Maria Linares pulled out a 6-4 win against the Bulldogs’ Liza Petushkova and Maria Tatarnkiova. Senior Lilla Barzo and freshman Manami Ukita secured an easy victory over Drake’s Darinka Stepan and Ines Stephani, 6-2.

The final doubles win came from senior Margot Decker and sophomore Ioana Gheroghita as they pulled a win from a tough battle against Drake’s Megan Webb and Kelsey Neville, 7-5.

In singles play, the Wildcats also dominated, only dropping two sets. Junior Anna Turco, Barzo and Ukita all won their matches with none of them dropping more than three games in their victories.

Job came out strong in her first set and had to battle for her second as she overcame Petushkova 6-1, 7-5.

Sophomore Rosana Maffei and Decker had some trouble in their matches, being pushed to three sets. While both struggled at times in their matches, they came out victorious in their third sets and sealed a 7-0 sweeping win for the Wildcats in their first home dual of the 2021 season.

“The first three matches came out fairly well and got the job done,” head coach Jordan Smith said in a release to K-State Athletics. “Give credit to the last three ladies on the courts today. It is never easy to keep your motivation and compete after the match has been decided in our favor. Thankfully, we didn’t have any major hiccups and pulled out the clean 7-0 win.”

The homestand continued on Saturday and was a rollercoaster of a day for the team as they faced off against Denver. While the Wildcats faced adversity, the team managed to overcome obstacles and secured a 4-2 win over the Pioneers.

The dual began with doubles play where every match was a display of dominance by the victors. Barzo and Ukita secured the first victory of the match, a 6-0 win over the Pioneer’s Anna Riedmiller and Tatum Burger.

Job and Linares played a solid performance as they took down the No. 36 ranked duo of Taylor Neville and Hada Chang, 6-1. These doubles victories gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead for the match.

To start singles play for the Cats, Ukita continued her dominant ways as she put away Denver’s Burger in two sets, 6-2, 6-1. Ukita is yet to lose at home since joining the team and has had a great start to her college career with a 13-4 record in singles play.

Turco fought for every point in her second set but walked away victorious from her battle, a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) win over the Pioneers’ Toni Nelson. This gave K-State a 3-0 lead for the match.

Denver secured the next two victories and looked to be making a comeback in the match. A 3-2 score-line loomed and the shift in momentum had begun. Down in the third set, Job flipped a switch to put a stop to all hope the Pioneers had. After winning the first set 6-3 and dropping the second 1-6, Job went all out and secured the dual win for the Wildcats winning the third set 6-4.

This victory gave K-State a 4-2 lead and a weekend sweep.

“Credit KJ,” Smith said. “This is the second time since the Nebraska match she has been in a situation that the team needed her to come through. A lot of times early in her career, it was easy for her to get down and go the other way. She stayed consistent, stayed positive, and calm, and I am just proud of her. That is a great team effort. Everyone did well.”

K-State will turn their attention to in-state foe Wichita State when the Shockers travel to the Body First Tennis Center on Friday.