North Texas Daily

Mean Green tennis splits weekend home series, captures first win

Mean Green tennis splits weekend home series, captures first win

Senior Alexis Thoma back hands the ball | Kaitlyn Sinclair

Mean Green tennis splits weekend home series, captures first win
January 29
19:13 2017

Cesar Valdes | Staff Writer

The Mean Green tennis team hosted Michigan State University and Lamar University over the weekend and picked up its first win of the season in dominating fashion.

Michigan State 01/28/17

In the first game of the weekend, North Texas lost its first match at the Waranch Tennis Complex since April 1, 2015, to Michigan State.

After being swept by Oklahoma State last week, the Mean Green were able to keep their competitive spirit alive in the 3-4 loss to the Spartans despite being without sophomore standout Tamuna Kutubidze in the singles portion of the match.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted, but I’m extremely proud of the way our team played – especially our freshmen,” head coach Sujay Lama said.

Both Alexandra Heczey and Haruka Sasaki were able to come out with singles wins against upperclassmen opponents.

Kutubidze saw her first in-game action in over three months as she paired with fellow sophomore Maria Kononova in a 6-0 doubles sweep against MSU’s Erin Faulkner and Allie Baer.

Kutubidze credited her strong performance to her partner.

“Even though I still don’t feel my game that well I didn’t really expect that I [would] play this well today,” Kutubidze said. “I think that’s why I played much better today because I always have her back and I know I can rely on her. If I played with someone else I think I wouldn’t have played this well.”

In singles play, Kononova claimed her first win of the season with a 6-0, 6-3 decision over Michigan State senior Erin Faulkner. Kononova continued to show why she was named a First-Team Conference USA selection with a unique combination of spectacular play and calm demeanor.

“I was controlling the second set as well but I just lost a couple deciding points so she [got] closer,” Kononova said. “I wasn’t nervous, I knew I could finish in straight sets, so I just kept playing my game and felt good.”

Senior Alexis Thoma and Heczey lost their doubles match, as did Laura Arciniegas and Minying Liang.

Lamar 01/29/17

After falling to the Spartans, the Mean Green bounced back to collect their first victory of the year over Lamar University.

North Texas had no trouble claiming the doubles point with the combinations of Kononova and Kutubidze and Heczey and Thoma leading the charge with 6-2 victories.

“[Thoma] gives me a lot of confidence,” Heczey said of her senior captain. “She makes me [feel] calm. She has a lot of experience and she helps me with tactics. When I’m playing with her I feel myself confident.”

Heczey, Sasaki, and Kononova each came out of the weekend with two singles wins.

After missing the match against Oklahoma State and then half of the contest against  MSU, Kutubidze competed in her first full match of the season and notched another win over Lamar senior Anna Spengler.

With the only loss of the day coming from Thoma to the Cardinal’s freshman Jasmin Butcha, Lama felt pleased with his team’s performance.

“I thought our demeanor, our poise, and our focus just stepped up today,” Lama said. “The challenge was for us to learn from yesterday. Yesterday we were a little rattled, we did not handle playing at home well. I think today we felt who we are and how we do things over here.”

Next up: North Texas will make the short trip to Dallas at 6 p.m. Saturday to face Tulsa University.

Featured Image: Senior Alexis Thoma back hands the ball. Kaitlyn Sinclair

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Cesar Valdes

Cesar Valdes

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