North Texas Daily

Tennis falls two games below .500 with weekend split

Tennis falls two games below .500 with weekend split

March 04
17:56 2017

After serving up two sweeps last weekend, the North Texas tennis team had an opportunity to even out its season record against two talent-heavy opponents and carry some momentum into a matchup against No. 22 ranked TCU.

However, a blown lead to Old Dominion University and a victory over the University of Arizona pushed the Mean Green to two games below .500.

03/03/17 vs. Old Dominion

If one game could sum up the type of season it has been for North Texas, it’s Friday’s 3-4 loss to Old Dominion.

With both teams splitting the first two doubles matches, senior captain Alexis Thoma and freshman Alexandra Heczey did the improbable.

Down five games to two and trailing 40-love in the eighth game, Thoma and Heczey clawed their way back and pushed Old Dominion’s Holly Hutchinson and Ingrid Vojcinakova to a tie-break win.

But after the hard-fought effort from Thoma and Heczey, it was ultimately the Monarchs that finished the comeback.

Singles wins by Minying Liang and Thoma moved the Mean Green to just one victory away from a win. Unfortunately, neither the reliable Maria Kononova nor Heczey was able to capitalize.

Riding a nine-game win streak, Kononova started off strong against No. 112 nationally ranked Borislava Botusharova, taking the first set 6-1. In the second set, Botusharova won the tiebreak 8-6 and went on to thwart Kononova 6-3 in the final set.

Old Dominion’s Nataliia Vlasova capped off the Monarch’s win by defeating Heczey in three sets, 4-6, 6-0, 4-6.

03/04/17 vs. Arizona

Walking away in tears with two members of the training staff next to her, Liang held her hand over her taped up shoulder as she tried to limit the excruciating agony.

Her teary eyes may have been the last thing fans at the Waranch Tennis Complex saw, but Liang’s selfless heroics on the court clinched North Texas’ fifth victory of the season with the 4-2 win over the University of Arizona.

“I can’t say enough about her,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “I think today was a good sign that she had some toughness.”

While Liang’s injury was apparent late in the day, sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze continued to show flashes of her healthy self despite playing on an injured ankle. Kutubidze added to North Texas’ lead by knocking off the Wildcat’s Paris Corely in straight sets.

Despite having early success in the season against ranked opponents, Kononova could not continue her dominance. Arizona’s No. 27 nationally ranked Lauren Marker defeated Kononova 6-4, 6-4.

“I didn’t field my game really well,” Kononova said. “I had a couple chances to get back in the game, but she had great shots in important moments and that’s why she’s that high in ranking.”

Playing at the fourth spot for her fourth time, Alexandra Heczey put North Texas up 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-4 win against the Wildcats’ Marie Van Aeslt.

“I played good today,” Heczey said. “My opponent was very fit, so whenever I smashed the ball she could hit it back, we had some long rallies but I can handle it well and my knees were working.”

This time, however, the Mean Green didn’t take their foot off the pedal.

While Liang put the nail in the coffin, freshman Haruka Sasaki added the cherry on top with a win over junior Maggie Cohen.

“The team needed a little bit more push from me,” Lama said. “I wanted to take a little bit of the pressure off of them and give them a clear focus, so I had to bring some energy, I had to bring some fierceness there.”

Quick Hits:

  • Both Liang and Thoma earned their first four-game win streak of their career.
  • Kononova and Kutubidze won their ninth straight doubles matchup.
  • Kononova’s singles win streak ended at nine.
  • North Texas is now 1-4 in one-score matches and 2-5 against Power Five teams.
  • Lama’s squad is now 5-7 on the season.

Next up: North Texas travels to Fort Worth at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday as they take on No. 22 TCU.

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Cesar Valdes

Cesar Valdes

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