Four tennis players earn first wins as Wildcats at opening season tournament

Aleen Quamar jumps as she serves the ball. K-State went against the Oklahoma Sooners on April 14, 2023, at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium. (Archive photo by Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: Corrected what and where the Wildcats will continue the season at the end of the article.

Kansas State tennis began its fall season with a three-day tournament at the Charlotte Invite from Sept. 22-24. The team of half newcomers and half returners began its play against Charlotte, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Day 1 against Charlotte was tough for the Wildcats. In eight singles matches, K-State saw two victories. For junior Temple transfer Veronika Kulhava and freshman Manhattan local Jillian Harkin, these were their first wins as Wildcats. Senior Aleen Quamar and freshman Tereza Polakova both took their matches to three sets, with Polakova losing the final set in tiebreaker. 

K-State went 1-3 in doubles with the top 3 teams only winning nine of 33 games. The No. 4 duo of Quamar and freshman Charlotte Keitel took the sole doubles victory for K-State in tiebreaker 8-7 (4), giving Keitel her first Wildcat victory.

“I was pleased with our level and how well we competed for just getting started with full practices,” head coach Jordan Smith said after Day 1 to K-State Athletics. “Our young group battled through with a NCAA Tournament team from last year, which should show all of them that the tennis skill is there. Just need to get more reps in with matches. On a good track for future success, which is credit to this team.”

Day 2 was shortened for K-State because of weather, but the team still managed a few victories. Playing a mixture of all three teams, three doubles matches were held, with senior Manami Ukita and sophomore Vanesa Suarez taking down Ruxi Schech and Lucie Petruzelova from Charlotte 6-1.

Only half the singles matches finished, with K-State gaining one victory from Kulhava winning another tiebreaker. Suarez battled Daianne Hayashida from Iowa and was tied 9-9 in a third set tiebreaker before weather stopped the play. Keitel swept her first set 6-0, but that match was also delayed.

“Better overall performance in doubles today,” Smith said about Day 2. “Vanesa and Manami looked great together and beat a solid team from Charlotte. We came out more prepared in singles today. All of our players were mindful of what they could build on from yesterday and it showed. Bad luck with the rain this afternoon and not being able to finish some of our matches. It’ll be exciting to see if we can continue in the morning and improve on Day 3.”

The delayed matches from Day 2 continued Day 3. Keitel kept momentum from the sweep to win the second set 6-1 while Suarez lost her final set 11-9. Day 3 continued as K-State’s best day. In the new day singles, five of the seven singles matches went to the Wildcats, with Polakova earning her first win for K-State in a close 7-6, 6-4 match. K-State split doubles on the day as Keitel and Harkin won 6-3.

“Strong end to the tournament by the ladies,” Smith said after Day 3. “All of them improved each day and displayed their best tennis today which was awesome to see. Jill [Jillian Harkin] and Veronika got us started off in doubles and the momentum continued in singles with us winning five out of seven matches. Super solid from Veronika going undefeated in all of her singles matches too.”

The Wildcats continue the fall season with the ITA Division I Regional Championships starting Oct. 12 in Lawrence.