North Texas Daily

Recap: Tennis team’s fatal flaw sends them packing in the first round of conference

Recap: Tennis team’s fatal flaw sends them packing in the first round of conference

Recap: Tennis team’s fatal flaw sends them packing in the first round of conference
April 23
14:32 2021

North Texas’ inability to close out leads came back to bite them in the end as the tennis team fell in the Conference USA Tournament to Florida Atlantic University by a score of 4-1 on Thursday.

Florida Atlantic (9-6, C-USA 2-0) was the No. 5 seed in the tournament but North Texas (6-13, C-USA 2-2) had a chance early in doubles as they gained leads on all three courts. However, the team slowly saw their chance slip away. While senior Nidhi Surapaneni and junior Maria Ponomareva captured a decisive 6-0 win on Court 2 it all came down to Court 3 where the Owls won despite the Mean Green being up 5-2 at one point.

“We had leads on every court,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “We were killing them in doubles […] but then at court three, I do not know how we lost that tiebreaker.”

In singles, Ponomareva and Surapaneni were once again leading the way for North Texas. Ponomareva asserted her will against her opponent with a 6-2, 6-1 win and Surapaneni had a strong lead on the third court. However, junior Lucie Devier was defeated in her match 6-2, 6-4, but losses from sophomore Kexuan Zhou and freshman Saki Oyama then finalized the Mean Green’s defeat.

Lama believes that the inability to win the doubles point hurt the team immensely, as the loss killed the momentum of the team.

“It was too much of an uphill climb, having to win four singles matches versus three,” Lama said. “Had we won the doubles point, the pressure would have been enormous on FAU.”

Reflecting on the year as the team captain, Surapaneni is still immensely proud of the way her team competed despite having a short-handed lineup.

“We just had six people this entire season […] luckily no one was seriously injured,” Surapaneni said. “Having six people also helped a lot because we could stay together a lot more and be there for each other in our lows and highs.”

Lama is proud of the fight that the team has consistently shown throughout the season, through wins and losses. While he acknowledges that depth was an obvious problem for the team, there is still one more improvement they need to make to get over the hump is the weakness that has been haunting the team for the entire season.

“We have got to find a killer instinct,” Lama said. “I think if there is one thing that was constant for this team was that we could not put away opponents when we had them on the ropes […] we have got to find ways to become a team that finishes games and matches.”

Courtesy North Texas Athletics

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Caleb Yum

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