North Texas Daily

Tennis unable to hold early lead in loss to SMU

Tennis unable to hold early lead in loss to SMU

April 13
22:10 2018

North Texas (7-13) traveled to Dallas Thursday to take on Southern Methodist University (13-8). After losing their last three matches all by scores of 4-0, they came out with something to prove. The Mean Green did just that as they displayed great effort, narrowly losing by a score of 4-3 to their cross town rivals.

North Texas started off strong as junior Tamuna Kutubidze and sophomore Haruka Sasaki won their doubles match at No.3 to give the team an early lead

After trailing 5-1 at No.1, juniors Maria Kononova and Minying Liang made early adjustments to win the doubles point.

The Mean Green had the early lead going into singles and looked poised to come out of today’s match with a win.

Kononova continued to dominate the competition. She won a quick 7-5 match to give the nations No.57 ranked player her 34th career singles victory. This moved her into third place on the teams all-time singles victory list.

Head coach Sujay Lama told that Kononova set the intensity for her other teammates.

“Maria is special,” Lama said. “She’s got the hunger. When she’s got that spirit the whole team feeds off it.”

After the win at No.1, Sasuki put pressure on the Mustangs by winning her match at No.6 to give the Mean Green a 3-2 lead on the afternoon.

But losses by Kutubidze and freshman Nidhi Surapaneni gave SMU much needed breathing room.

This made the match come down to Liang and sophomore Alexandra Heczey at No.3 and No.4, respectively. Both girls lost their first sets by narrow margins and were forced to play from behind. Heczey nearly forced a third-set after dropping the first-set in a 7-4 tiebreaker but a couple missed shots clinched SMU’s victory in the afternoon.

Lama told that he was pleased with his team’s performance, though.

“We played free and aggressive,” Lama said. “I’m very proud of our team. For everything we’ve been through this season to play as hard as we did today was great to see. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Next Up: North Texas will return home to host its final match against UT-Arlington Saturday at noon. The match will also be the team’s community day game. Fans are encouraged to attend, as there will be free food, autographs and a free kids clinic at 11:00 a.m. as well as a free adult clinic after the match.

Featured image: North Texas junior Tamuna Kutubidze hits the ball during a singles match against Louisiana Tech on Jan. 27.

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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