North Texas Daily

Kutubidze wins again but tennis falls to Washington State 4-1

Kutubidze wins again but tennis falls to Washington State 4-1

February 10
22:46 2018

North Texas continued its stretch of three road matches in six days as the team faced Washington State University on Saturday evening.

After fighting hard with a talented Cougars squad, the Mean Green eventually lost to Washington State 4-1.

While the outcome shows North Texas getting beat pretty handily, head coach Sujay Lama knows tough matches are a key part to improving in the long run, especially once the team gets deeper into conference play.

“All the intangibles are A+ right now,” Lama said. “We played great tennis against two tremendous teams. The scores are not an indication of how well we played or how hard we fought. We are going to learn from it. We believed we could beat these teams that why we scheduled [them]. When we lose matches like this we actually grow, we become better. That’s what I’m going to take from these matches.”

In doubles, the Mean Green continued their struggles losing two matches with one not finishing. Meanwhile, in singles, three of the team’s top four players lost their match with the exception being junior No.2 Tamuna Kutubidze.

No.1 junior Maria Kononova, went down in singles for the second consecutive match 6-2, 6-2 as well as doubles loss by the score of 6-4. In her doubles match, Kononova paired with freshman Nidhi Surapaneni instead of her usual partner Kutubidze.

“Me and Tamuna took a break from partnering in doubles to come back together later in the season for a new beginning”, Kononova said. “I feel the same [as before], I’ve just played good opponents. I don’t play bad, it just happens like that sometimes. We were very excited overall [to travel], maybe the scores don’t show that but I am proud of how everyone was playing.”

Kutubidze is currently undefeated in singles at 5-0 this season and has been on a roll during this rough road stretch for North Texas. The win was also a little bit of revenge for the junior.

“I feel really good mentally and physically,” Kutubidze said. “Because I feel so good physically it makes my mental mindset so much better. Both of those things together are helping me a lot. Today was a really big win for me because I lost against this girl last year right after I had surgery.”

Lama has been pleased with the team’s play and leadership so far, and a few losses to Power Five schools is not going to change that.

“[I look to] Tamuna, Maria, and Minying [as leaders],” Lama said. “We don’t have any seniors, but they’ve run through a lot of battles. They are poised and dialed in and the team looks up to them. I am really pleased with the leadership and the chemistry we have.”

They have a few days to regroup before their next major road match and Lama knows what his team needs to do.

“We want to be a great team, so we have to be able to win [tough road matches] like this,” Lama said.

Next up: The Mean Green look to bounce back as they close out the road trip in Norman, Oklahoma against Oklahoma University on Valentines day.

Featured image: North Texas sophomore Haruka Sasaki hits the ball during a singles match against Louisiana Tech on Jan. 27.

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Stefan Washington

Stefan Washington

UNT Advertising Major| NT Daily sports writer

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