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North Texas tennis using time off to rest and recover from injuries before C-USA tournament

North Texas tennis using time off to rest and recover from injuries before C-USA tournament

Senior Alexis Thoma back hands the ball | Kaitlyn Sinclair

North Texas tennis using time off to rest and recover from injuries before C-USA tournament
April 05
18:00 2017

Call it a blessing from the tennis gods.

With only two matches in a span of 24 days, the Mean Green tennis team will be getting some much needed rest before they finish off what’s been a challenging regular season and enter the Conference USA tournament.

And with some key injuries hampering important players, North Texas is welcoming the extended time to get healthy.

Sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze is one of those players. Kutubidze underwent ankle surgery this past November and, after months of rehab, is beginning to resemble the player she was as a freshman when she won 13 matches.

“My last game I was feeling very good,” Kutubidze said. “I try to spend a lot of time at the treatment [center] with my athletic trainer. I still think that even though I may say it’s 100 percent, it’s still not 100 percent. I think I’ll be ready for the conference [tournament].”

Playing on two-week rest against the University of Memphis, Kutubidze put together her best singles match of the season, defeating her opponent in a 6-2, 6-1 in straight sets. While her mobility may not be completely back, she’s still more confident moving around than she’s ever been this season.

Fellow sophomore Minying Liang has also had her run-in with injuries. Back in early March, Liang was forced to stop play in her singles match against Texas Christian University due to a left shoulder injury she has been fighting since late February.

Since then, Liang has won three out of her past four singles matches, including her straight set victory against Memphis in singles.

“It’s feeling a little bit better, but still not really good,” Liang said. “In Memphis, I felt like during the match my shoulder was more stable. It has less pain and I didn’t really play [my] backhand. I just need to suck it up.”

For now, everyone is expected to head into the final quarter of the season feeling healthy enough to play in the tournament.

This time off affords head coach Sujay Lama the opportunity to rest his injured players and still build momentum heading into the C-USA tournament. The Mean Green are currently a few spots back of a first-round bye in the tournament but still have one goal on their mind.

“I think for Tamuna, who is actually now healing up at the right time, winning breeds confidence and swagger,” Lama said. “I think those two matches [SMU and University of Texas at Arlington] are going to be huge right before conference. If we can get both of them, we can get three in a row.”

Still, keeping his team on edge during these stretches can be a challenge for Lama.

“That’s always a really fine line,” Lama said. “You want a competitive edge and you struggle with the rustiness a little bit. I thought that we kind of felt that in doubles against Memphis. We didn’t look like ourselves out there.”

Lama also says he plans on using these last two games to experiment with some lineup combinations and get a last look at some of the past pairings he’s tinkered with earlier in the season.

As of today, North Texas has a 7-11 record and would be the 5th seed in the C-USA tournament. The record is more of an indication of a difficult schedule than a team lacking talent. They’ve faced the second most power-5 conference teams, only behind Rice, who are in the mix for a first rounds bye and have won the conference crown four years in a row.

Luckily for the Mean Green, the month of April has been a favorable time for Lama’s teams.

During Lama’s tenure at North Texas, his teams have tallied a 27-10 mark heading into conference tournament play in the month of April. Unfortunately, since North Texas has moved to C-USA, they have fallen short of a conference title, losing three straight years in the semifinal round.

This year’s squad will be Lama’s lowest ranking team he’s ever had going into a C-USA tournament.

Despite this, this is also one of Lama’s most talented teams. Headed by No. 63 nationally-ranked Maria Kononova, lone senior Alexis Thoma, and Kutubidze, expect this squad to make a decent run in conference play.

“We’re playing good, but as you can see, we’ve lost a lot of matches,” Lama said. “We need to win.”

Featured Image: Senior Alexis Thoma backhands the ball. Kaitlyn Sinclair

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Cesar Valdes

Cesar Valdes

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1 Comment

  1. Larry RDN
    Larry RDN April 10, 14:06

    You need Shaklee nutrition to reduce injuries and improve performance. Unfortunately these colleges are restricted by contracts with low quality product that can be purchased at Walmart. Why would an athletic team put their trust in sugary drinks with food coloring, preservatives and artificial flavors. If you want to number one you have to have the whole package. Poor nutrition makes you prone to injuries.

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