North Texas Daily

Tennis prepared to host conference tournament after a unique regular season

Tennis prepared to host conference tournament after a unique regular season

Tennis prepared to host conference tournament after a unique regular season
April 21
21:02 2021

The Mean Green tennis has reached the end of their season as they prepare to host the Conference USA tournament on Thursday. Even with the season not going as planned for the team, head coach Sujay Lama has been consistent in saying that every match, win or loss, is preparation for the conference tournament.

“The whole year has been in preparation for this week,” Lama said. “We’re just really zoned in on our preparation and what we want to do on Thursday.”

As the hosts of the tournament, North Texas (6-12, C-USA 2-1) has the distinct advantage of being in a familiar environment for the tournament and not having to travel to another school.

“We are down to the routine. We know what to expect, what to do and we get to sleep in our own beds,” Lama said. “I think it is an advantage.”

Senior captain Nidhi Surapaneni believes that the team is in a good place even with last week’s loss to Southern Methodist University, and is excited for what they can do at the conference tournament.

“Sophia is finding her rhythm […] Saki is in a good place,” Surapaneni said. “I think everyone is in the right place right now. We just need to keep going.”

Due to their difficult schedule, North Texas ended the season with a mediocre record and the No. 12 seed in the conference. Their first-round match will be against the No. 5-seed Florida Atlantic (8-6, C-USA 2-0) who the Mean Green have never played this season.

The two teams have had one common opponent the entire year, which is the University of Texas-San Antonio (9-10). While the Mean Green were barely able to scrape by UTSA with a 4-3 win, the initial match score shows that the Owls out willed the Roadrunners 4-0. However, the box score shows that the match had the potential to swing in favor of UTSA if a couple of third-set matches went the other way.

While seeding still puts North Texas as one of the weaker teams in the tournament, Lama is not putting much thought into whether or not the team should be higher.

“Seeding is based on the national ranking and it is what it is,” Lama said. “We just have to get ready to compete as hard as we can.”

Junior Lucie Devier echoed these statements, saying that in order to win the tournament every team must be beaten. It does not matter to her in which order.

“I’m going for the win regardless,” Devier said. “If you want to win a tournament you have to win against every team, so we’re just going for it.”

The season has been a strange one for North Texas. The team was shorthanded with only six players the entire semester and has gone through a gauntlet of difficult teams that saw them lose some close matches. Despite this, Devier believes they have gotten stronger as a result of these matches.

“This year we have had a really tough season,” Devier said. “We did not have a lot of wins, but we played really good players […] that helped prepare us for the conference. We have been playing better each match.”

The loss against SMU last week saw the team get off to a slow start in doubles, which proved to be detrimental to the match. For the conference tournament, Lama is emphasizing the need to be ready from the get-go.

“The first ball that we strike on Thursday we have to be completely zoned in,” Lama said. “We can’t be caught up by everything else, we need to focus on what each of us has to do.”

After experiencing so much in the season, Lama believes there is nothing that can surprise the team at this point. All that is left is to go play some tennis.

“We’ve seen everything basically,” Lama said. “The pressure is off. We just have to go out there and give ourselves a chance to play the best tennis that we are capable of playing.”

Courtesy North Texas Tennis

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Caleb Yum

Caleb Yum

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