Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the Kansas State tennis team will look to build on that success beginning today when the Wildcats open competition in the Bulldog Invitational in Athens, Ga.
K-State, ranked No. 46 in the Campbell/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national polls, was set to face No. 7 Georgia this afternoon, followed by a match against Troy on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Six letter-winners, who were a part of last season’s squad that set a K-State record for wins in a season, return for the Wildcats — led by sophomore and reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Petra Niedermayerova.
Niedermayerova, who is ranked No. 17 nationally and competed in the NCAA Singles Championship last season, is 30-16 in her career at K-State.
The Brno, Czech Republic native, who finished last season with the highest individual ranking in school history, was the fourth Wildcat in school history to compete in the NCAAs and the first since 2002.
Georgia is just one of the big challenges that await the Wildcats this season, as K-State’s spring schedule features 10 teams that reached the 2011 NCAA tournament and 15 teams ranked in the top 75. The Wildcats will face eight straight ranked opponents from Feb. 29 to April 1.
Including Niedermayerova, K-State also returns juniors Karla Bonacic and Ana Gomez Aleman. Bonacic, a native of Split, Croatia, earned her first career ranking last year at No. 94 and will look to improve on her 39-28 career record. Gomez Aleman, from Murcia, Spain was 20-13 last season —including a nine-match winning streak and a team-best 19 wins in doubles play.
Following the Wildcats’ weekend in Georgia, K-State will take part in the ITA Kickoff Weekend when it travels to Clemson, S.C., to face No. 62 Wake Forest on Jan. 28. The Wildcats will either face No. 14 Clemson or No. 61 Purdue on Jan. 29.