Article Originally Published by Caleb Akpan on North Texas Daily
Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily
After two straight losses last weekend, Mean Green tennis (10-9, 4-3 Conference USA) put themselves back above the .500 mark with a 4-2 win on Wednesday over Texas-Arlington. The Mean Green have won their last four matches over the Mavericks.
“The conditions weren’t that great today,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “It was windy. It put us out of our comfort zone. A lot of times, when you play in that kind of environment, it’s more about the will and the grit. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we found a way and hung in there when we had to.”
The Mean Green started off the day by winning two doubles matches. Seniors Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze defeated the Mavericks’ first team 6-3. Juniors Ivana Babic and Alexandra Heczey defeated their opponents on court number two by the same score. At the same time, sophomore pair Minying Liang and Nidhi Surapaneni lost their lead on court three.
“The doubles, I thought overall we played brilliantly,” Lama said. “Our execution was really good.”
Kononova secured her 80th career win on court one of the singles matches. She has won 70 percent of her matches in singles and has two matches remaining in her regular season career with the team.
“She’s arguably the best player that we’ve ever had in the history of this program,” Lama said. “It doesn’t surprise me that she comes [on the court] and doesn’t hesitate.”
Kononova was the first player on the team to finish their singles match, winning in straight sets (6-2, 6-3). Lama noted that he loves seeing Kononova lead her teammates by example.
“For her to kind of get it done soon I think it put pressure on our opponent,” Lama said. “It was good to see her get the victory really quickly and then because the courts were all together, she was moving around and helping her teammates get through their matches.
One of the teammates that Kononova cheered on was junior Ivana Babic. Babic clinched the match for the Mean Green in three sets that were highlighted by a dominant 6-0 third set to win.
“The biggest thing was her positive energy,” Lama said. “Just that refuse-to-lose mentality. Things were not going great. It was windy as hell, the opponent was playing well, she was not feeling her shot, but she never got down on herself.”
The team sits at 10-9 on the season with two matches to go in the regular season. That ten-win mark eclipses the nine-win season the team had last year and they hope to add two more wins to that increase next week.
“We’ve got to make sure that we continue to stay healthy,” Lama said. “Find a way to be fresh. At this time in the season, there’s a lot of wear and tear for every team in America. The team that’s gonna be fresh, healthy, together and are just gonna be fighters, only good things are going to happen.”
Featured Image: After defeat in doubles play, the Mean Greens huddles up before seeking redemption in singles at the Waranch Tennis Complex on Feb. 15, 2019. Image by: Kara Dry.
Source: North Texas Daily