Tennis Starts Spring With 6-1 Win Over Central Arkansas
North Texas Drops Only One Matchup In First Dual of 2016
Freshman Maria Kononova picked up wins in both singles and doubles on Saturday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON — The North Texas tennis team entered Saturday’s spring-opener with hopes that there wasn’t any rust left over from a holiday lull. By the day’s end, the Mean Green looked more like a team that had been playing high-caliber tennis for months.
Head coach Sujay Lama’s squad took a 6-1 win over Central Arkansas on Saturday from the Waranch Tennis Complex, thoroughly handling the Sugar Bears for the duration of the team’s first dual of 2016.
“Today’s play was a great way to start the year,” associate head coach Jeff Hammond said. “The team showed toughness today against a very stout group of players. A total team effort was needed to achieve victory, and everyone delivered.”
The match began with North Texas claiming the doubles point in dominant fashion as all three North Texas teams came away with wins. The freshmen duo of Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze led the way at the No. 1 doubles spot, defeating Nataly Yoo and Amiru Shimoguchi by a score of 7-5 to earn their third win of the spring.
The Mean Green’s first singles win of the day came in the form of a one-sided victory for senior Agustina Valenzuela as she took down Rada Manataweewat by a score of 6-0, 6-1. Senior Anastasiya Shestakova brought home a 6-4, 6-0 straight set victory of her own over Xylia Chunan Xiang, and freshman Minying Liang tallied her first collegiate win with a 6-4, 6-4 win over QiLi Ma in a contest that proved to be the match-clincher.
With four points in hand, the match had already been decided by the time Kononova and Kutubidze picked up their singles victories in a pair of gritty battles. Representing the Mean Green at the No. 1 individual spot, Kononova picked up a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over UCA’s Nataly Yoo, while Kutubidze went the distance with No. 114 Maril Van Heerden in a 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(3) decision.
“All the girls did great today,” Kononova said. “I really enjoyed playing in the dual environment because I could hear my teammates supporting me. It helped me stay concentrated on every single point and it kept me fighting hard.”
The team will hit the court next in a neutral contest versus Kansas State, set to begin at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 30, from Pullman, Washington.
“If our players can continue to inspire each other, this could become one of those magical seasons,” Hammond concluded.
• Kononova def. Nataly Yoo; 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
• Shestakova def. Xylia Chunan Xiang; 6-4, 6-0
• Liang def. QiLi Ma; 6-4, 6-4
• Thoma falls to Amiru Shimoguchi; 6-3, 7-5
• Kutubidze def. Marli Van Heerden; 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(3)
• Valenzuela def. Manataweewat; 6-0, 6-2
• Kutubidze/Kononova def. Yoo/Shimoguchi, 7-5
• Liang/Arciniegas def. Xylia Chunan Xiang/Van Heerden, 6-4
• Valenzuela/Shestakova def. Ma/Manataweewat, 6-4