Tennis star Karine-Marion Job fulfills her dreams at Kansas State

Awaiting a serve, junior Karine-Marion Job competes in day two of the K-State Fall Invitational on Oct. 31, 2020. (Archive photo by Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

Growing up in Lyon, France, Karine-Marion Job — KJ for short — knew exactly what she wanted to do when she got older. She wanted to play collegiate-level tennis in the United States. There was just one catch — she had no idea where to go.

Sending videos of her talents to NCAA Division I Universities across the United States, Job kept her options open. After talking with head coach Jordan Smith and visiting Manhattan, Job knew Kansas State was where her dreams would flourish.

“Jordan was always responding, and it just felt good to talk to him,” Job said. “Then I went on a visit in October [2018] and I liked it, so I committed and I arrived in January [2019]. I also really liked the visit because everybody was so nice and I really liked the atmosphere.”

Job, now a junior in marketing, has rapidly climbed the team ranks and proven time after time why she is a top talent in the Big 12 Conference and in the nation. This spring Job took down some of the top players in the country in singles play, defeating players ranked at the No. 57, 73 and 117 spots in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Despite the tough competition, those results were no surprise to coach Smith.

“When she’s on, she’s one of the best players in the country. She plays a very aggressive style, high risk, high reward,” Smith said. “Karine plays to break down her opponents with her playstyle and power, and that is very uncommon for a lot of players these days.”

While some of the wins this spring have impressed him, Smith said Job’s most impressive performance was before Job became K-State’s ace.

“Early on in her career, there were times where we needed her to step up. My favorite memory was beating Nebraska [in 2019],” Smith said. “We needed KJ to step up on court four and clinch the match. To see the smile on her face, and the team celebrate with her, was great. For her to stay calm and stay motivated was awesome.”

While it was a great team win, Job’s favorite memory came earlier this spring against in-state rival, the University of Kansas.

“I’m really proud of the KU win. It was a really close match and I’ve played against [Sonia] Smagina three times before and I’ve lost against her twice before, but it was the first time that I was able to beat her, so it was really good,” Job said. “[Ioana Gheorghita] clinched the last match so we were really happy about that win.”

However, tennis is not all about singles play. Job spent most of the year playing doubles with teammate Maria Linares, junior in management from Maracay, Venezuela.

Job and Linares have built a strong connection over the year, defeating some formidable foes during the 2020-21 season. The duo posted an 11-2 record in the fall and claimed victories over ranked opponents in the spring.

“I know that I can always count on [Job]. I know that if I have any kind of issue or problem that she will always be there for me,” Linares said. “We’re also at the point where we can be honest with each other like, ‘Maybe try to do this, I think it can help you improve.’ I take her advice because I think it can help me grow as a person.”

After graduating, Job plans to attempt professional play. While world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is her inspiration, there is only one person Job would love to play if given the opportunity.

“I have to go with Serena Williams because she’s just the GOAT, I think it would be really fun,” Job said.

Whether she is smashing in singles play or demolishing in doubles, Job is always looking for that edge to beat her opponents.