North Texas Daily

Tennis nearly sweeps Central Arkansas, wins first match of spring season

Tennis nearly sweeps Central Arkansas, wins first match of spring season

Senior Anastasiya Shestakova returns a serve from Central Arkansas. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Tennis nearly sweeps Central Arkansas, wins first match of spring season
January 23
18:02 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

In its first matchup of the spring season, North Texas tennis went 6-1 against the University of Central Arkansas at the Waranch Tennis Complex. The match marks the first ever meeting between the Mean Green (1-0) and the Bears (1-1), a squad that came into Denton with two of the nation’s top ranked players, freshmen Rada Manataweewat and Marli Van Heerden.

North Texas was ready for the challenge, winning all three doubles matches in the first game to take an early 1-0 lead. Mean Green freshmen Laura Arciniegas and Minying Liang took down opposing freshmen Chunan Xiang and Van Heerden 6-4 in doubles. Additionally, Mean Green seniors Anastasiya Shestakova and Agustina Valenzuela beat Manataweewat and QiLi Ma 6-4, gaining even more momentum for the team.

“I’m very, very happy with the performance,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “They brought intensity to every match, and when there were difficult moments, they stayed really controlled and just fought and prevailed.”

Freshman Laura Arciniegas returns a serve against Central Arkasnsas. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Freshman Laura Arciniegas returns a serve against Central Arkasnsas. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

After North Texas freshmen Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze won 7-5 in doubles, Kononova took her first singles set 7-5 before going down 3-6 in the second. The Russian native said she worried about losing the match for a brief moment before collecting her thoughts and emotions, but finished the match off strong with a 6-3 third set win.

“I didn’t seize my opportunity to finish the match in the second set, but I didn’t get too disappointed,” Kononova said. “I just tried to keep playing my game and finish the match strong.”

Kononova and Kutubidze’s loss early on in the match didn’t make things easy on them, but the duo made an aggressive comeback to put North Texas in the win column.

Junior Alexis Thoma digs for a ball while warming up before her singles match. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior Alexis Thoma digs for a ball while warming up before her singles match. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

“We went down in the beginning, but we weren’t nervous,” Kononova said. “We were confident and we won because we stayed focused on kept playing hard for every point.”

The freshman said it’s difficult to focus during a match when she starts to make mistakes, but she realizes staying mentally prepared is just as important as being ready physically.

“So many things go through your mind during a match,” Kononova said. “I think of little tennis tips to watch out for and different songs to keep me calm.”

North Texas continued to dominate in singles play, with Kutubidze winning 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 and Shestakova, Liang and Valenzuela all winning in straight sets. Junior Alexis Thoma had the only loss for the Mean Green in a competitive 3-6, 5-7 match.

Valenzuela said it felt really good to finally get the first match and win of the spring out of the way after practicing and competing for months throughout the fall.

Freshman Tamuna Kutubidze hits the ball back to the Central Arkansas side of the court. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Freshman Tamuna Kutubidze hits the ball back to the Central Arkansas side of the court. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

“I started ahead early in the match, and I saw the chance that I could finish fast,” Valenzuela said. “I just tried to stay focused to entire match, and it worked out for me.”

The Mean Green travel to Pullman, Washington next weekend to face Kansas State University and Washington State University for its first road dual match.

Featured Image: Senior Anastasiya Shestakova returns a serve from Central Arkansas. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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