The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Tennis flips the script from last season

The Wildcats start the new season hot as it finished 2-20 the previous year
Sophomore Vanesa Suarez prepares to return a backhand shot against South Dakota on Jan. 28 at Body First Tennis Center in Manhattan. The Wildcats swept South Dakota 7-0 as Suarez won as the No. 1 seed 6-3 6-2. (Photo Courtesy of Reece Bachta | K-State Athletics)

 Kansas State tennis is off to an impressive season start. The Wildcats already racked up four wins in early season play — two more than in all of 2023. Head coach Jordan Smith said one key difference this year is health. 

“We had a couple of things where we weren’t healthy last year,” Smith said. “We’ve been healthy this year. When your body’s right then you can easily keep going forward.” 

Smith also attributes the successful start to team chemistry. 

“It’s one of those rare things where everyone just loves being a part of the group,” Smith said. “Being in Manhattan, it’s easier to do everything together and in some places, you can’t really do that.” 

All but one player on the team is international; seven different countries are represented on the team. Smith said helping the players transition to an unfamiliar environment was easier than expected. 

“I’ll be honest, it’s pretty easy,” Smith said. “The great thing is because we have a melting pot of a team, they are all going through a similar situation of getting used to a new environment.” 

One international player is sophomore Vanesa Suarez from Venezuela. Suarez comes off a three-set victory with the Wildcats defeating Iowa Saturday, Feb. 3. Suarez feels the team is more together than they were a year prior, helping them obtain more wins. 

“We are super together,” Suarez said. “I think that makes us enjoy every step, every game, and helps give us victories.”

Also coming off a three-set victory against Iowa is freshman Tereza Polakova. The Czech Republic native said another key was focusing on preparation.

“They gave us a plan when it came to lifting,” Polakova said. “We were given a lift routine to do at home, and we were constantly playing tennis by ourselves to prepare for the season.” 

Smith constantly reminds his players about how much talent they possess and how even more talent can develop. 

“There’s great things they’ve done to be here now,” Smith said. “We’re going to embrace that and keep building those strengths, that’s the biggest thing we do here.” 

K-State Tennis will look to keep this hot start going as it goes head-to-head against Alabama (3-1) Friday, Feb. 9, then Indiana the following day in Tuscaloosa. 

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