North Texas Daily

Tennis steals home win over Iowa behind Kutubidze heroics

Tennis steals home win over Iowa behind Kutubidze heroics

Junior Sille Tranberg completes a powerful serve during singles rounds. Josh Jamison

Tennis steals home win over Iowa behind Kutubidze heroics
February 04
02:20 2018

“Let’s go Mean Green, that’s the way”, head coach Sujay Lama said encouragingly to his team.

The team needed all the positive energy they could get as they came down to the final few singles matches.

As the sets winded down, the teams were locked at three points with one match to go. Automatically turning it into the winner-take-all match. It was the court with the two-seed match on it between North Texas’ junior Tamuna Kutubidze and Iowa’s Zoe Douglas.

In the end, Kutubidze’s match ended with her coming out on top in a thrilling 10-8 third set tiebreaker, giving the Mean Green the 4-3 win Saturday at home.

“Compared to other matches I felt strong physically,” Kutubidze said. “[I knew I could tough it out as it went on]. My wrist really started to bother me towards the end of the second set. I was kinda scared because of it, so several shots and match points I just wanted to finish. I had to take time to get use to the wind and the cold in my first set, but it was hard for her too. I hate when I play in wind. But when I get use to it I can be really good.”

It was a slow start for Mean green in doubles as they lost the doubles point 2-1. The Mean Green’s top seed, junior Maria Kononova, returned after missing last weeks match against Louisiana Tech. Kononova and Kutubidze struggled getting back in rhythm with each other as they dropped their doubles set 7-5.

Sophomore Haruka Sasaki had an impressive showing Saturday afternoon. She won her singles match 6-0, 6-2 after being apart of the only doubles team to win with teammate, sophomore Alexandra Heczey.

“I don’t worry about the opponent, judge, or anything, I just focus on myself and do my best,” Sasaki said. “My footwork and movement was so much better than my opponent [in singles] so I think that gave me the biggest advantage. I try to go high on windy days [to keep my opponent working and guessing].”

Kononova did win her singles match, though, 6-4, 6-2. The Mean Green won one other three set singles match besides Kutubidze’s. It came when freshman Nidhi Surapaneni overcame a set deficit to win 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4.

Lama was pleased with his team’s effort and resilience against the Big 10 opponent along with the wind. It was a match that he felt showed the resilience he has been wanting to see from his team for some time.

“Experience; we lost quite a few matches last year we were such a young team,”  Lama said.  “We are still a young team but, Tamuna is now an upperclassmen so you see that experience prevailed there at the end. You have to give Iowa a lot of props because they took it to us in the No.1 doubles. Then we have to give our kids a lot of credit for getting back into that match.”

Next up: North Texas meets Kansas State on the road on Friday at 3 p.m.

Featured Image: North Texas Junior Sille Tranberg completes a powerful serve during singles rounds. Josh Jamison

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Stefan Washington

Stefan Washington

UNT Advertising Major| NT Daily sports writer

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