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Kononova shines in ITA Hall of Fame Invitational

Kononova shines in ITA Hall of Fame Invitational

Then-sophomore Maria Kononova returns the ball to a Kansas State opponent last season. Kononova picked up North Texas' only win of the day. Samantha Hardisty

Kononova shines in ITA Hall of Fame Invitational
September 18
00:09 2017

By Shahji Adam | Staff Writer

Junior Maria Kononova was selected to play in the International Tennis Association Hall of Fame Invitational, one of the top tournaments in the country, Sept. 15-17.

Kononova, who is ranked No. 41 in the country, went a perfect 3-0 over the weekend to showcase her talent early in the season against a high level of competition.

“The hall of fame is for the very best,” associate head coach Jeff Hammond said, showing just how big of a weekend it was for Kononova. “It’s an honor to be invited.”

Kononova won her first match of the weekend on Friday, defeating Princeton’s Gabriella Pollner 4-6, 7-5, 10-8 in her first match playing on the grass court. Despite falling behind in the first set, Kononova fought back and won in an intense final set.

After her impressive opening win, Kononova shined again in a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 10-7 defeat of North Carolina’s Alle Sanford Saturday. Sanford, a freshman, entered the weekend ranked as the No. 6 newcomer in the country.

“Maria has nerves of steel,” Hammond said. “She was extremely resilient and confident.”

With two wins under her belt, Kononova carried that confidence into the final day of the tournament. That’s when she showed her greatness again, outlasting Louisiana State University’s Eden Richardson 4-6, 6-2, 12-10 to claim the Althea Gibson flight singles championship.

Kononova lost the first set in all three matches, but maintained her focus and never fell too far behind before storming back. She credited her brother for helping her stay on track.

“My brother would send me messages before my matches which helped me a lot,” Kononova said. “I was really happy with the tournament win.”

Kononova’s performance certainly justified her program record-setting No. 41 ranking, and gives the star junior a lot of momentum heading into the rest of the season. Kononova will travel to Wisconsin next weekend to compete in the Milwaukee Classic with her doubles’ partner, Tamuna Kutubidze.

“I cannot wait for the next one,” Kononova said.

Featured Image: Then-sophomore Maria Kononova returns the ball to a Kansas State opponent last season. Kononova picked up North Texas’ only win of the day. Samantha Hardisty

About Author

Brady Keane

Brady Keane

Brady Keane is the Sports Editor of the North Texas Daily. He previously served as Deputy Sports Editor (Jan. 2017-May 2017) and as a Staff Writer (Aug. 2015-May 2016).

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