North Texas Comes From 3-1 Down To Win 4-3
Mean Green Beat USF In Season Opener
TAMPA, FL. — The North Texas tennis team saved two match points on its way to a 4-3 victory over the 2017 American Athletic Conference champion University of South Florida Friday afternoon in the Mean Green’s first dual match of the season.
Three of the six singles matches went three sets and UNT won all three, the clinching match coming at the No. 1 spot. The Mean Green’s Maria Kononova, the No. 42 ranked nationally ranked tennis player, defeated the Bulls’ No. 97 nationally ranked Ana Roman, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, to clinch the 4-3 victory for North Texas.
Kononova, a junior, improves to 8-3 all-time versus ranked opponents.
“This was a great start to the season,” said sophomore Haruka Sasaki. “I’m proud of my teammates. We never gave up and each court gave their 100 percent that brought us the huge win at the end.”
North Texas’ win Friday came after they dropped the doubles point and trailed at one point 3-1.
The Mean Green’s top doubles team went 17-1 last season.
North Texas quickly regained the point as Kutubidze made quick work of her opponent at No. 2 in singles. Kutubidze cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win to tie the match at one.
After freshman Nidhi Surapanani and sophomore Alexandra Heczey fell in straight sets at No. 4 and No. 6, the Bulls led 3-1 and were on the verge of running away with the match.
But three straight three set victories for North Texas saved the day for the Mean Green.
The first of which came at No. 5 where Sasaki overcame a frustrating second set to comeback and beat her USF opponent, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
“Since we lost the doubles point, I knew my match was going to be important to winning today against a good team,” Sasaki said. Every singles points were crucial. I trained hard during the break and it’s really paying off this year.”
After Sasaki’s win, junior Minying Liang took her opponent to a third set where she won in a tie break, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(6), to tie the score at three, putting all the attention on Kononova and court No. 1.
Kononova battled through a long first set and went back-and-forth with Ana Roman in the second set.
In the third set, Kononova and Roman were tied 3-3 at one point but from there Kononova took over, finishing her ranked opponent with a 6-4 third set victory and give the Mean Green a 4-3 win.
North Texas remains in Florida and travels to UCF on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. CT.
Mean Quick Hits
Friday’s season-opening 4-3 win comes a year after the Mean Green lost six matches by a 4-3 score.
1. #42 Maria Kononova (UNT) def. #97 Ana Roman (USF) 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-4
2. Tamuna Kutubidze (UNT) def. Jessica Chaves (USF) 6-0, 6-1
3. Minying Liang (NT) def. Juliana Cardoso (USF) 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6)
4. Evelyne Tiron (USF) def. Nidhi Surapaneni (UNT) 6-1, 7-5
5. Haruka Sasaki (UNT) def. Vanja Klaric (USF) 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
6. Nicole Dzenga (USF) def. Alexandra Heczey (UNT) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
1. #36 Maria Kononova/Tamuna Kutubidze (UNT) vs. Jessica Chaves/Juliana Cardoso (USF) 5-1 unfinished
2. Nicole Dzenga/Vanja Klaric (USF) def. Nidhi Surapaneni/Minying Liang (UNT) 6-2
3. Alexandria Mjos/Ana Roman (USF) def. Alexandra Heczey/Haruka Sasaki (UNT) 6-1