WAMEGO — With the match tied at three, a three-set battle of two of the top-30 singles players in the nation determined Sunday’s Big 12 tennis match between No. 75 Kansas State and No. 13 Baylor.
The Bears held off the Wildcats’ charge to secure the 4-3 win at the Wamego Recreation Complex.
K-State dropped to 5-10 on the season and 1-3 in Big 12 action, while Baylor improved to 15-5 overall and 2-1 in the league.
As the two teams played to a draw at three apiece, K-State’s Petra Niedermayerova and Baylor’s Diana Nakic extended their match to a thrilling third set. The overall time elapsed for the singles match between the 30th-ranked Niedermayerova and 13th-ranked Nakic, as it approached four hours in duration.
Niedermayerova, who nearly fell ill on the court during the second set, was playing her second three-set match in three days.
The sophomore from Brno, Czech Republic, fought off Nakic’s attempt to close out the match twice in the third set, but was unable to hold her off a third time, as Nakic finished the win for the Bears with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 decision over Niedermayerova.
Niedermayerova, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, owns a 2-2 record in Big 12 action, is 17-10 overall this season and 41-20 in her career, including a 12-11 mark against opponents ranked in the Campbell/ITA national singles rankings.
“I told the team after the match that you can watch tennis a long time and you will never see a better display of tenacity and determination than what we witnessed today at number one singles,” K-State coach Steve Bietau said of the three-set marathon. “You can’t help but be impressed by what Petra and Nakic did today.
“Nakic is a great defender, but Petra did a great job of sticking with her plan and fighting through. It was just a great match between two of the nation’s best. This match today was what college tennis is all about.”
The Wildcats jump started their afternoon by winning the doubles point with wins at number one and three doubles. It was the first doubles point won by the Wildcats since Feb. 18 against Arkansas-Little Rock, halting a five-match streak in doubles play.
The freshman duo of Marketa Trousilova and Carli Wischhoff at number three doubles closed out the Baylor pairing of Megan Horter and Abby Stainback, 8-4. This was the first win this season by the grouping of Trousilova and Wischhoff, ending a five-match skid.
At number one doubles, Niedermayerova paired with junior Karla Bonacic to defeat the 46th-ranked tandem of Nina Secerbegovic and Ema Burgic, 8-6. The win by the duo of Niedermayerova and Bonacic also ended a five-match winless stretch and was their first win together this season.
“I am happy with the improvement our team made from Friday’s doubles result to today’s, but there is still lots of work that needs to be done,” Bietau said about the critical doubles point to open the match. “It was clear early that we were going to be in the match with the way we were playing. I wasn’t sure that was going to be the case going in but the team had a good effort today.”
Bringing K-State into a 3-3 tie on Sunday were junior Carmen Borau Ramos and freshman Amina St. Hill. Borau Ramos tied the match at two apiece with her straight-set win over Abby Stainback at number six singles, 6-1, 6-3. Borau Ramos has won three of her last five singles efforts and if 7-12 on the season.
St. Hill brought K-State into the 3-3 tie with a 6-3, 6-0 win at number five singles over Horter. St. Hill carded two wins over the weekend and is 6-7 in her brief career with K-State including a 2-2 mark in Big 12 action.
In addition to its win at number one singles, Baylor secured wins at numbers two, three and four. Three of the four singles wins by the Bears were tallied in straight sets, including two by players ranked among the top-60 in the Campbell/ITA national singles rankings.
K-State will now travel to Texas to face No. 16 Texas A&M on Friday at 6 p.m. and to No. 9 Texas on Sunday at noon. The matches against the Aggies and Longhorns will mark the seventh and eighth straight matches against ranked opponents for the Wildcats.