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Kononova, Kutubidze impress at ITA Texas Regional

Kononova, Kutubidze impress at ITA Texas Regional

Doubles partners Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze pose for a picture during a break at practice. Sara Carpenter

Kononova, Kutubidze impress at ITA Texas Regional
October 17
11:48 2017

After an impressive run to the semifinals of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Texas Regional, Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze were eliminated just shy of the championship game Monday. 

Coming into the tournament, the highly-regarded doubles pair held the No. 22 ranking in the country and landed the top seed in the tournament. The duo lost in one of the most high-intensity matches of the year to the No. 8-seeded University of Texas 6-7 (10), 6-3, 7-5. 

Despite the elimination one day away from the championship, head coach Sujay Lama is determined his two stars can take a lot of good out of this tournament as the Mean Green continue to mold to team into one of the top young duos in the country. 

“I thought we had an incredible couple of days here at regionals,” Lama said. “To see what Maria and doubles did to get there to the semifinals against Texas is incredible. I think we saw signs of real progress. The girls stepped up and took on the challenge against tough matches, and overall, I’m really pleased to see what we can do.”

The tournament marked the third time a North Texas doubles team has made the semifinals of the Texas Regional. The last time they advanced this far was last year, when the girls went in as the No. 8 seed.

The jump to the No. 1 seed showed dramatic improvement in a short period of time.

“Look at Maria and Yamuna and how far they’ve gotten,” Lama said. “There’s no doubt we have the talent, work ethic and, now, the maturity. They’re capable of winning tough matches like these, and if we have that culture of excellence to build from, then it’ll only get better.”

Away from the doubles side of the tournament, the Mean Green’s No. 3-seeded Kononova lost in singles draw to the top-seeded Bianca Turati of the University of Texas 6-0, 6-1.

Kononova entered as the underdog, ranked No. 41 in the country compared to No. 24 Turati. 

However, Kononova became the only player in North Texas tennis program history to reach the semifinals of the tournament in singles. The team as a whole collected a total of 12 wins, surpassing last year’s total (8) at the ITA Texas Regional by four.

“No matter what the situation is, they stay poised,” Lama said. “The game has slowed down for them, and they have two more seasons to do something special.”

Next up: North Texas looks to build on its performance when they return to the court at the River Oaks Country Club Invite Nov. 3-5 in Houston. 

Featured Image: Doubles partners Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze pose for a picture during a break at practice last season. Sara Carpenter

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Thomas Escobar

Thomas Escobar

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