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North Texas tennis has most successful weekend in history

North Texas tennis has most successful weekend in history

October 24
19:09 2018

The Mean Green broke four program records and brought home a doubles championship last weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships in College Station, Texas.

Head coach Sujay Lama said this past weekend was “a beauty” in the way the Mean Green were able to win huge matches what he called one of the best regions in the country.

“As far as an individual tournament, without any question, this is the best weekend we have had since I have been here,” Lama said. “I think if you go look at the record books, probably the best weekend this program has ever had in the fall. It was a dream week.”

The senior duo of Tamuna Kutubidze and Maria Kononova won the Texas Regional Finals 6-4, 6-3 against a team from Rice. This is the first time that a doubles team from North Texas has ever won the regional championship.

For two years in a row, Kutubidze and Kononova were eliminated during the semifinal round of the tournament. This year, the two had to rebound after losing the first set of the semifinal match and ended up winning the final two sets to advance to the finals. This marked the first time a Mean Green duo has advanced to the finals at the Regional Championships.

“My goal for regionals and really any tournament I’ve played in is to just play my game and accept whatever happens,” Kononova said to meangreensports.com. “To think of how many women have played here at [North Texas] and to win more than them is an honor.”

With the championship, the two seniors earned an automatic bid to the ITA’s Fall National Championships in Surprise, Arizona, which will start on Nov. 7.

“When you go to a tournament of the magnitude of the National Championships, the question is, ‘Do you believe you can win?’,” Lama said. “In the past two years, I feel as if these two women have asked themselves that question. This year, however, I think these two actually believe they have it in themselves to make a run and do something very special.”

Kononova won her first singles match of the Regional Championships with a 6-1,6-3 defeat of Houston’s Phonexay Chitdara. With the victory, Kononova broke the program record for most collegiate singles victories with 67. The previous record of 66 was set in 1985.

On Friday, North Texas’ Alexandra Heczey and Ivana Babic defeated the No. 21 nationally ranked team from the University of Texas, who was also the No. 1 doubles team in the ITA Regional Championships.

Soon after the upset from Heczey and Babic, Minying Liang defeated the Longhorns’ Petra Granic in a tiebreaker match to move to the round of 16. Granic was the No. 2 seed in the tournament and ranked No. 40 in the nation.

Lama said the victory for Liang could be a catalyst going into the spring season and that it is nice to have that 1-2-3 punch with Kutubidze, Kononova and now Liang.

“We’ve always believed in Minying’s talent and potential,” Lama said. “She would get in very close matches with very great players but could never get over the hump. Finally, in her senior year at Regionals when so much is at stake, for her to deliver made me so happy for her.”

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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