North Texas Daily

Nationally ranked Kononova leads tennis to back-to-back sweeps

Nationally ranked Kononova leads tennis to back-to-back sweeps

Then-freshman tennis player Maria Kononova swings at the ball during a singles match against Penn last season. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Nationally ranked Kononova leads tennis to back-to-back sweeps
February 25
18:27 2017

The Mean Green tennis team entered the weekend having struggled in its previous two matches, but righted the ship with two impressive performances against New Mexico State University and the University of Nevada.

2/24/17 vs. New Mexico State

North Texas got back on track  in dominant fashion against New Mexico State, sweeping the Aggies 7-0 Friday afternoon.

“It’s time to get some wins,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “I’m just happy for the girls because they just needed to get one. They felt like they dominated.”

Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze could not be stopped on the doubles court. They quickly took out New Mexico State’s Rimpledeep Kaur and Gabrielle Joyce in a 6-0 sweep, surging the Mean Green past the Aggies for the doubles point.

In her first match ever as a nationally ranked singles player, No. 74 Kononova put together another fast finish and beat Kaur in straight sets.

As Kononova extended her winning streak to eight games,  Kutubidze put an end to her five-match losing streak. Facing the Aggie’s Rebecca Keijzerwaard, Kutubidze was finally able to put together a more consistent match while still battling the pain of some lingering injuries.

Minying Liang was back in the lineup after missing the match against Washington State University due to a shoulder injury.

The aching shoulder was not enough to keep Liang from joining the team’s success. Liang claimed her first win of the season against sophomore Eli Arnaudova.

2/25/17 vs. Nevada

Saturday’s matchup against Nevada brought a familiar sight to the Waranch Tennis Complex.

The opposing player walked back onto the court, her face red as she  grew frustrated trying to explain to her coach why Kononova was having her way so easily.

In her first matchup against a fellow ranked opponent, Kononova took down the Wolf Pack’s No. 77 ranked Claudia Herrero Garcia in three sets.

“I’m just happy that I keep maintaining my level for such a long time,” Kononova said. “It means that I’m doing everything good and I feel all of my shots the same as I felt a month ago, so that’s basically what I want to have the whole season.”

The Mean Green got their second consecutive sweep with a 7-0 win over Nevada, but it wasn’t just Kononova feeling good after the team’s weekend performance.

“I was playing amazing,” freshman Alexandra Heczey said. “I like [the four spot] because I have a pretty strong game, I like hitting the ball at a high speed. I feel much more confident there.”

Heczey made her debut at the four spot against New Mexico State. She continued her success there against Nevada’s Blaga Delic, defeating the junior in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

“Just happy for the ladies,” Lama said. “They’ve really preserved, they’ve been so positive through some tough times. We’ve had some really, really brutal losses, but we knew we’ve been improving and we just knew that we just got to stay the course and believe in ourselves.”

Quick Hits:

  • Kononova now has five wins over top-125 players
  • Kutubidze put an end to her five game losing streak against New Mexico State.
  • Kononova and Kutubidze remain undefeated as a duo (7-0).
  • The last time North Texas had back-to-back sweeps was in April 12, 2011.
  • Senior captain Alexis Thoma is now 5-5 on the season and 5-3 at the three spot.
  • Thoma and Laura Arciniegas have both won their three consecutive singles matches.

Next up: North Texas hosts Conference USA rival Old Dominion at 3 p.m. Friday.

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Cesar Valdes

Cesar Valdes

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