North Texas Daily

Mean Green unable to close out No. 23 ranked Wichita State

Mean Green unable to close out No. 23 ranked Wichita State

March 11
17:49 2018

In it’s match against No.23 ranked Wichita State in Palm Springs, California, North Texas got off to a great start by winning the doubles point, but was unable to maintain an early lead as they came up short and  lost 4-2.

Wichita State won the first match in doubles, but junior Tamuna Kutubidze and sophomore Alexandra Heczey tied up the score after a 6-4 win in the No. 1 doubles spot.

In the deciding No. 2 match, junior’s Maria Kononova and Minying Liang prevailed and clinched the doubles point with a 7-4 win.

The Mean Green continued their impressive play into the first set of singles. Sophomore Haruka Sasaki, freshman Nidhi Surapaneni, and Liang all had first set victories while Kononova had a 4-1 lead in her first set.

Just like in recent weeks, the Mean Green (4-9, 2-2) could not close it out as Surapaneni was the only one to win her match. It was the team’s only singles victory of the day.

The freshman from Hyderabad, Indian has impressed the coaches these past few weeks.

“From the last match against Middle Tennessee, [Surapaneni] had a deciding match and won the first set, she was up 4-1 and then she blew a lead so for her to put that aside and play the way she played and finished the match was amazing,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “She’s only a freshman, so if a [freshman] can learn from a loss and come back to win the next match, then that’s the push for this team because we have to learn from these losses just like Nidhi learned from hers.”

The Shockers established the early lead by it’s top two singles players who are both nationally ranked. Kononova and Kutubidze both lost in straight sets to give Wichita State an early 2-1 lead.

Surapaneni’s win tied the score 2-2 and gave the Mean Green hope for the rest of the competition, but the Shockers finished off the match with three set victories against Liang and Heczey, making Sasaki’s match go unfinished.

Lama described the loss as heartbreaking but knows that his team has to finish strong in order to win.

“We were so close. We played a top 25 team. We needed to win the doubles point and we played incredible [doubles], and we had leads,” Lama said. “At one point we were in command in four out of our six single’s matches, so we’ve got to put the hammer down.”

The fact the Mean Green remained so competitive throughout the match against a nationally ranked team like Wichita State left an early impression on Lama.

“We need to latch onto the positives, believe in ourselves, believe in each other and know that our time is coming,” Lama said. “Our time is coming.”

Next Up: North Texas will return home to face Georgia State Thursday at 11 a.m.

Featured image: North Texas freshman Nidhi Surapaneni hits the ball during a singles match against Louisiana Tech on Jan. 27.

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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