Over five days, the Kansas State tennis team competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Regional Tournament at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex in Iowa City, Iowa.
During the first day of action this past Thursday, the Wildcats finished undefeated to start the competition, earning two singles victories and four doubles victories. Freshman Dinara Alloyarova defeated Omaha’s Ines Absisan in two sets (6-0, 6-1), before taking down Creighton’s Siri Kongara in two sets (6-4, 6-3) for the two singles victories on the day.
In doubles action on day one, all of the K-State pairs had the luxury of a first-round bye before competing in the second round. The senior pair Anna Turco and Rosanna Maffei took down Southern Illinois-Edwardsville by a score of 6-2 to start of doubles action.
The other pair of seniors, Maria Linares and Karine-Marion Job, also took down their second-round opponent, the pairing of Maria Bezmenova and Madalena Andrade from Bradley, by a score of 6-3. The pair Florentine Dekkers and Ioana Gheorghita also came away with a victory — albeit close — against Southeast Missouri State’s Daniela Hlacikova and Myroslava Zelenchuk by a score of 7-6(4).
The pair Alloyarova and Manami Ukita finished out the day with a second-round victory over Bradley’s Kirstin Hailey and Sandra Maletin by a score of 6-0.
“Today was a good day,” head coach Jordan Smith said to K-State Athletics. “We had some close matches, and some doubles pairs advance to a round of 16, and so it was a successful day. It was great having all eight of our players in the singles main draw and have nine singles wins. The success we have been having puts us in a great position, and the competition is only going to get more intense as we go on.”
In doubles on day two, Alloyarova and Ukita were victorious against Rachel Hanford and Ekin Ercetin from Minnesota in an 8-5 match.
In addition, Dekkers and Gheorgita won out against No. 24 Oklahoma’s Marcelina Podlinska and Emma Staker 8-3.
Maffei and Turco fought hard but ultimately went down 8-7 (5). Linares and Job were also defeated by Tulsa’s Valeryia Rozenkova and Maria Berlanga Bandera with a score of 8-7(4).
In singles play on day two, Linares defeated Tiffini Nash from Missouri State in two sets, 6-3 and 6-0.
Maffei won in the singles main draw second round against Nebraska’s Maja Makoric 6-1 and 6-2, while Job overpowered Tulsa’s Bandera, winning 6-3 and 7-6(5).
Turco beat Arizona State’s Hunter Roper in three sets, 5-7, 6-4 and 6-1, but later fell to Isabel Adrover Gallego from Nebraska in two rounds of play 6-1 and 7-5.
Dekkers won her first match in two sets, 6-1 and 6-2 but fell in her second match 6-3 and 6-4 to Emilee Duong from Minnesota.
Gheorghita fell to Oral Roberts’ Oleksandra Nahurska in her first match 3-6 and 7-6(4) but won against Jessie Zheng from Wichita State, coming out victorious in the main draw consolation bracket 6-0 and 4-6(10-7).
Ukita beat Kansas City’s Grace Ball 6-2 and 6-2 and won the second round singles match against Oklahoma State’s Sofia Rojas 6-3 and 6-4.
Alloyarova won against Elys Ventura from Missouri 7-6(6) and 6-1 but fell to Oklahoma’s Layne Sleeth in her third match 6-3 and 6-0.
Day three started out with doubles, and Ukita and Alloyarova beat Big 12 rival Oklahoma State’s Martina Zerulo and Alana Wolfberg 8-5. However, freshman Dekkers and senior Gheoghita fell to Malkia Ngounoue and Maria Titova from Kansas 8-3.
“Very pleased with our performance today,” Smith said. “Felt like today was some of our best tennis as a team this fall, which is really exciting since it came on day three. I am happy that we advanced a singles and doubles to the quarters today. It definitely shows our great depth on both sides to still be competing this late in the event.”
In singles, Linares beat Alexandra Pisareva from Oklahoma in three sets, 6-7(4), 6-3 and 6-1, but the feeling of victory was short-lived as Linares ended up falling to Thasaporn Naklo from Iowa State in two sets, 6-4 and 7-6.
Job kept the momentum going from the two wins the previous day and beat Barbora Pokorna from Iowa (6-2 and 7-5) and then went on to defeat Arkansas 6-3 and 6-3.
Rosanna fell to Ivana Corley from Oklahoma 6-4 and 6-4, and Ukita fell in a hard-fought and close match to Rachel Hanford from Minnesota 7-5 and 6-3.
During the second round of consolation play, Gheorgita won against Maja Gledic from Central Arkansas in two sets, 7-6(1) and 6-1, and Sofia Cabezas from Iowa State, 4-6 and 6-2(10-6).
Day four of the competition started the semifinals.
“Being able to compete this late in the competition is great for this team,” Smith. “It is great seeing KJ continue the momentum from the SMU Red and Blue Challenge and defeating a ranked opponent. Going into the semifinals after four days of competing, it is ultimately going to come down to who wants it more.”
The day started out with the singles. Job advanced out of the quarterfinals and was victorious against Indianna Spink from Arkansas in three sets 2-6, 6-3 and 6-4.
Gheorgita defeated Elys Ventura from Missouri 4-6 and 6-3(10-6) but dropped in the finals to Myroslava Zelenchuck from Southeast Missouri State, earning runner-up of the tournament.
“Seeing Ioana come back and making it to the finals of the consolation draw means a lot,” Smith said. “She worked hard, and it shows.”
In doubles on day four, Alloyarova and Ukita fell to Christin Hsieh and Thasaporn Naklo from Iowa State 6-2 and 6-3.
On day five, Job won the semifinals round against Maria Titova from Kansas in two sets, 6-4 and 6-4. Job then took on No. 58 Thasaporn Naklo from Iowa State for the singles main draw title. The first set was won by Naklo 6-3, but Job fought hard and came back winning set two 6-0. Iowa State took set three 6-0.
“This was a fantastic tournament run by KJ,” Smith said. “This event started with 170 players, and she reached the finals. She played a semifinal this morning against Kansas. Tough three-set loss this afternoon in the finals against Iowa State, but KJ has plenty to be proud of, especially being the first player in our program to qualify for the ITA National Fall Championships.”
Coach Smith praised the team for the work they put in during the tournament.
“This week was a great overall experience and play by the team,” Smith said. “We competed hard in every match and had great showings in both singles and doubles. All eight of our ladies represented themselves and K-State incredibly well.
Job will head to San Diego for the 2021 ITA National Fall Championships at the Barnes Tennis Center on November 4-7.