North Texas Daily

Tennis season ends with C-USA semifinal loss to Rice

Tennis season ends with C-USA semifinal loss to Rice

April 23
19:05 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

The North Texas tennis season came to an end in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Saturday in a 4-1 Conference USA semifinal loss to No. 45 Rice University.

Riding a four-meet winning streak and winning seven of its last eight in the last month, the Mean Green came just a game short of potentially catching its first C-USA title.

“Everyone’s very sad right now,” senior Agustina Valenzuela said. “The seniors know it’s the last game we’ll ever play with each other and as a part of the North Texas family.”

North Texas dropped the opening doubles point to start the meet from behind, but kept the score close down 2-1 before the Owls ran away with the meet.

“[Rice] came out ready to fight today,” Valenzuela said. “They battled us for every point and never let up.”

Freshman Tamuna Kutubidze was one of North Texas’ only bright spots in the loss. Kutubidze won her doubles match with teammate Maria Kononova before the team eventually lost the team point.

The freshman then won the only team point for the Mean Green with a 6-4, 6-1 doubles victory over Rice’s Katherine Ip.

“I felt like I did really well even though we lost,” Kutubidze said. “My shoulder was a little hurt but my forehand felt really good. I was able to get my eighth win in a row to end my individual season on a good note.”

The lone victory in the North Texas loss might fly under the radar, but Kutubidze said she’ll never forget this particular win. The freshman said she lost 6-3, 6-1 in a previously played matchup against Ip.

“I was waiting months to play her again,” Kutubidze said. “It felt so good to beat her after how bad she beat me last time we played. She puts every ball on the court and makes you play your best, so I made sure to go my hardest against her.”

Although Kutubidze earned a personal victory, her celebration was cut short after Valenzuela and Kononova lost the final two singles matches to end the Mean Green’s season.

Kononova lost her singles match 7-5, 6-3 and Valenzuela fell in three sets. Valenzuela won the second set against Rice’s Savannah Durkin after falling 6-1 in the first set, but her comeback fell flat in a 6-0 third set loss.

Valenzuela is the only player of the three graduating seniors from the 2013 Sun Belt championship roster before North Texas joined C-USA.

“It always sucks to lose, especially on your last match, but I have a lot to be happy about,” Valenzuela said. “I got to spend four great years here and will always belong to the Mean Green family.”

Head coach Sujay Lama said he feels very proud of the team even though they didn’t complete their ultimate goal of taking the C-USA title back home to Denton.

“It’s obviously disappointing to come this far and to not win the championship, but everyone gave a lot of effort today,” Lama said. “This team really blossomed over the year, and the hurt and pain from losing this close to winning it all will give us the motivation we need going into next season.”

Featured Image: Senior Agustina Valenzuela returns the ball in a singles match. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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