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Mean Green tennis facing familiar foes in 2017 with revenge on their mind

Mean Green tennis facing familiar foes in 2017 with revenge on their mind

Senior Alexis Thoma practices one-on-one with Head Coach Sujay Lama during practice on Thursday January 19. The UNT tennis team faced OSU on Saturday, January 21 and lost 7-0. Credit: Katie Jenkins

Mean Green tennis facing familiar foes in 2017 with revenge on their mind
January 25
14:17 2017

Cesar Valdes | Staff Writer

The North Texas tennis team is hoping to serve up some revenge.

After being ousted by several schools last year, the Mean Green will get another crack this season at the teams they weren’t able to solve.

Of the 20 dual matches North Texas will play in 2017, half of them will be against opponents previously faced. The slate of 10 rematches are highlighted by bouts with Texas Christian University and Kansas State University.

The Mean Green finished 3-7 against these foes, and were only able to top the University of Texas at Arlington, Oklahoma University and Memphis University.

“The teams that we’ve been playing are high-quality teams,” associate coach Jeff Hammond said. “I think when we now play some of them at home we’ll probably have that home court advantage. So, hopefully experience plays in and we can beat some of these teams that we lost to last year.”

The change in location could help the Mean Green.

North Texas won all its matches in Denton last year. Against those 10 teams, the Mean Green lost all seven of them on the road and won the remaining three at the Waranch Tennis Complex. The ten rematches will be split, half at the Waranch and half away.

The Mean Green played six Power Five conference teams last season, which is second in Conference USA play. This year, they take on nine.

Regardless of their record a year ago, players are embracing the challenge. And looking forward to getting back to level pegging.

“It’s actually nice [playing the same teams] because you go in having a little more history of that player,” senior captain Alexis Thoma said. “[You] know how to play them, what not to do against them.”

One hurdle North Texas will have to clear if it hopes to dish out payback is its youth. Of the eight players on the current roster, seven are underclassmen. Thoma is the lone senior with four sophomores and three freshmen around her.

At practice on Thursday, Jan. 19, head coach Sujay Lama talks with his players about the schedule and exercises for the afternoon. Katie Jenkins

And while the majority of the team is relatively inexperienced, the Mean Green believe they are equipped with the talent to win now.

“I can rely on [my teammates],” sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze said. “Especially Haruka [Sasaki]. She’s my favorite because I can see several things that I could see [from] myself when I was a freshman. She’s working super hard and she has aim to do something for the team. Something good.”

Sasaki is not the only freshman with potential to do great things. Alexandra Heczey was ranked a career-high No. 26 in singles play in her native country of Hungary. Fellow freshman Ivana Babic ranked No. 5 in Croatia for the under-18 age group.

“It should be really good for us,” sophomore Maria Kononova said of her new teammates.  “We can make more doubles teams and just the connection between each other should be really good, it will help us.”

North Texas gets its first crack at redemption Feb. 3 when it takes on the University of Tulsa in Dallas. The Golden Hurricanes were one of the seven teams to knock off the Mean Green last season.

“We’re all after one goal,” Thoma said. “We all want to win.”

If anything, going against these 10 teams for a second time in a row won’t be something this team dreads.

Instead, it’s an opportunity they relish.

“I prefer it because I can [get] revenge,” Kutubidze said.

Featured Image: Senior Alexis Thoma practices one-on-one with head coach Sujay Lama during practice on Thursday, Jan. 19. The UNT tennis team faced OSU on Saturday, Jan. 21 and lost 7-0. Credit: Katie Jenkins

About Author

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell was the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily from May 2017 to December 2017. He previously served as the Sports Editor and Senior Sports Writer. Reece also worked at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

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