North Texas Daily

Tennis win streak snapped after close road loss at SMU

Tennis win streak snapped after close road loss at SMU

April 05
23:33 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

After going on a three-match win streak, Mean Green women’s tennis dropped a thriller on the road in Dallas against Southern Methodist University. North Texas (9-9) fell to the Southern Methodist (12-8) after going the distance in a back-and-forth matchup lasting over three hours, losing the last match for a final score of 4-3.

The Mustangs dominated the Mean Green to begin the meet in doubles play. Freshman Maria Kononova and senior Nastya Shestakova lost a one-sided 6-2 match to the nation’s 62nd ranked duo in SMU senior duo Vaszilisza Bulgakova and Hristina Dishkova. Then, Mean Green freshman Laura Arciniegas and junior Alexis Thoma only managed one point in its 6-1 doubles defeat to Southern Methodist junior Macie Elliott and freshman Ana Perez-Lopez.

North Texas head women’s coach Sujay Lama said he was not impressed with the slow start by the team.

“We were flat in doubles to start the meet,” Lama said. “We missed a lot of balls, and you have to make opponents play [hard] to win. We made way too many unforced errors.”

The Mean Green came out swinging early in singles play with a spark from two of its freshman. Kononova beat Dishkova in straight sets 7-5, 6-2 followed by teammate Tamuna Kutubidze with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over the Mustang’s Yana Erkeeva. The wins put North Texas up momentarily, 2-1.

“[Maria and Tamuna] were amazing, aggressive and fearless,” Lama said. “When they play their game and stay positive, they’re unstoppable. They are so much better now than where they were at the start of the year. They’ve really grown as people and you can see them maturing [on the court].”

Southern Methodist tied the score at 2-2 after Thoma lost her second match of the day in singles play against Perez-Lopez. The junior dropped the first set 6-2 before playing a close second set. Thoma was only down 3-4 before losing the last two points to fall 3-6 in the second set.

Senior Agustina Valenzuela won a crucial fifth set to take the 3-2 lead for the Mean Green once again. Valenzuela lost the first set 3-6 before coming from behind to clinch the last two sets 6-3, 6-4 against Elliott.

With her teammates fighting on the other courts in the close meet, Valenzuela said her attitude in the last two sets changed.

“I was watching the other girls [after the first set] and they were winning, so I had to win my match,” Valenzuela said. “The wind was going in all directions, so I was not getting consistent easy shots at first.”

Despite only having to win one of the last two matches to win the meet, North Texas allowed the Mustangs to win the last two matches to clinch the meet. Freshman Minying Liang loss 2-6, 6-1, 4-6 to Southern Methodist’s Mary Wright before senior Nastya Shestakova fell 7-6, 6-7 (5), 5-7 to Dasha Sharapova.

“I lacked confidence in the second set and needed to be more aggressive,” Shestakova said. “[Sharapova] had her best match. All her shots were close.”

The Mean Green have a road match against the University of Houston at 12 p.m. on Sunday before wrapping the spring season up with a home meet against the University of Texas at Arlington on April 16.

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