North Texas Daily

Mean Green kicks off 2013 in Florida

Mean Green kicks off 2013 in Florida

Psychology Senior Valentina Starkova and Agustina Valenzuela a freshman in Business congratulate each other after winning a practice game. The team will start the year competing in Florida at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational. Photo By Annette Arroyo/Intern

Mean Green kicks off 2013 in Florida
January 16
22:57 2013

Caitlyn Alvarado / Staff Writer

While most students went home to enjoy their winter break, the No. 53 Mean Green tennis team was hard at work to stay in shape and prepare for the 2013 spring season.

For the third year in a row, the team will begin the year in Fort Myers, Fla. competing in the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational.

Head coach Sujay Lama handed out lists of things each player needed to work on over the break to prepare for the schedule ahead.

“We need to go out there and dominate and feel good about ourselves,” Lama said. “This is the fine-tuning before we go into the spring season. Our main goal is to focus on today, take one day at a time and make every day the best it can be.”

The Mean Green will face Florida Gulf Coast University, Iowa State University, Liberty University, University of North Florida and Northwestern State University during the invitational, which lasts Saturday through Monday.

Senior and team captain Barbora Vykydalova said her goal is for the team to lay everything on the court.

“I want the team to do our best and just be the best team we can be,” Vykydalova said. “If we work hard together, then the results will show through that.”

The team last competed in the Cougar Invitational in Houston, Nov. 2-3. In the match, UNT had a 7-9 singles record and a 3-4 doubles record.

During the 11-week break in competition, senior Valentina Starkova – recently ranked No. 12 in the Texas region – trained at the Brookhaven Academy in Dallas.

“I would go on the court and run sprints,” Starkova said. “Then I would find someone really strong to be my hitting partner and I would hit for a couple of hours and then work on my serve too.”

No. 16 in the Texas region, sophomore Kseniya Bardabush, spent her break in Dallas as well, competing in two tournaments. Bardabush won the Cotton Bowl tournament and a doubles tournament over the break.

Lama said that it will take time for the team to get into the groove of the season, but he is confident in his players because of their strong chemistry.

“This week is just making sure we are all on the same page and a lot of match plays to get ready for the tournament,” Lama said. “In my 18 years of coaching I have never seen a group of girls work this hard. They are hungry and dedicated and it’s really beautiful to see.”

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