North Texas Daily

Tennis’ comeback against ODU falls short in C-USA tournament

Tennis’ comeback against ODU falls short in C-USA tournament

April 22
01:33 2018

A day after winning their opening match against University of Alabama at Birmingham 4-2, North Texas could not maintain that same level of play in their second round match against No.3 seed Old Dominion University, losing 4-2 Friday afternoon.

The last time these two teams played, Old Dominion beat North Texas in the previous matchup 4-0 on Feb.25 in Norfolk, Virginia. But the Mean Green remained much more competitive this time around.

The Mean Green dominated at the beginning of the match as junior’s Minying Liang and Maria Kononova won their doubles match at No.1 while junior Tamuna Kutubidze and sophomore Haruka Sasaki won their match at No.3 to clinch the doubles point, helping the team to an early lead over the Monarch’s.

One of the team’s biggest struggles throughout the season was being able to close out matches, and those same problems ensued today.

A lot of momentum was lost early after Kononova lost on her first set. The team followed suit as they faced deficits on five of the six courts.

North Texas tried to amass several comebacks as they won their second sets on three different courts. Kutubidze who had been battling an illness during the match won both her second and third sets to tie the match score 2-2.

Kutubidze felt like she played better even on her worst days.

“Today I wasn’t feeling good. I had a really big headache,” Kutubidze said. “I tried to take one point at a time and was carrying so much adrenaline. I was flying off the court and getting all the balls and we both gave our best, but I was stronger mentally and physically. That’s why I won.”

Surapaneni, Sasaki, and sophomore Alexandra Heczey took their opponents to a third-set as they put pressure on the Monarchs.

Heczey, Sasaki, and Liang all made drastic improvements against the same opponents and had Old Dominion against the ropes, but the Monarch’s capitalized on a late run by picking up wins at No.4 and No.5 to clinch the match and end the Mean Green’s postseason hopes.

Surapaneni also played a better overall match against the same opponent then she did during the regular season. In the last matchup between Surapaneni and Old Dominion’s Adriana Rajkovic, Surapaneni lost 6-1 in two sets. But today was a much different match, as the Hyderabad native made it to the third set tied at 4-4 before losing.

Surapaneni was proud of her drastic improvement but was disappointed that it wasn’t enough to give her team a win.

“I can definitely take a lot of positive things from this match and the previous one because I had a very tough streak behind me and clinching the win yesterday for my team was a big boost for my confidence,” Surapaneni said. “Today I went into the court with the same mindset and I wanted to get the win so badly but it just couldn’t happen.”

Head coach Sujay Lama was impressed with the level of competitiveness and effort from his team throughout.

“I’m very proud of the way we competed today. I mean these kids. I challenge them to put everything out there on the court and have no regrets,” Lama said. “The way we battled and never gave up to put ourselves in position to win the match against a very good team. To give ourselves a chance to advance says a lot about the character of this team and the fight of this team.”

Lama obviously knows how talented this team can be and believes there’s nowhere else to go but up.

“We are very disappointed obviously, especially when they played so hard, but at the same time this is a journey that’s gonna carry on next year because we don’t have any seniors,” Lama said. “Next year we plan on being there until Sunday and celebrating at dinner with a championship in our hands.”

Featured image: North Texas junior Tamuna Kutubidze 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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