Kononova Beats Highest Ranked Opponent In Program History
Mean Green lose 4-3 to Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. — North Texas tennis sophomore Maria Kononova defeated the highest ranked singles opponent in program history Friday afternoon at Oklahoma.
At No. 1, Kononova knocked off the nation’s 16th ranked Lily Miyazaki, 6-2-6-4.
“Big moments like this are the reason why I work so hard every day,” Kononova said. “It’s what keeps me going and what will make me achieve my goals.”
The Mean Green (1-4), however, fell 4-3 at Oklahoma (2-1). The final clinching match featured sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze against the Sooners’ Mimi Fotopoulos at No. 2. After dropping the first set 6-3, Kutubidze found herself with her back against the wall at match point down 4-5. But the competitive Kutubidze fought back and won the next two games to win the set 7-5.
Meanwhile at No. 5, freshman Haruka Sasaki was up a set, 4-3, at game point to go up 5-3 but couldn’t hang on and lost 6-1 in the third set to put Kutubidze in a winner-take-all final third set.
A back and fourth tightly contested set, Kutubidze had it tied at 4 but lost the next two points and her match.
“I am very proud of the way our team competed today,” said head North Texas coach Sujay Lama. “ The effort was incredible and it hurts to come so close and not get the win. We are improving with each match and the pieces are coming together nicely.”
Along with Kononova, senior Alexis Thoma won her singles match, 6-4, 6-3.
In doubles, North Texas won its third straight doubles point as Kononova and Kutubidze won at No. 1 (7-5) and freshmen Ivana Babić and Alexandra Heczey won at No. 2 (6-4). The Mean Green have won the doubles point in three of their five matches.
“Winning the doubles point is a good, because it gives us the early lead,” Kononova explained. “That gives us confidence, so we can transfer energy to singles.”
For Kononova, she improves her dual match singles record this season to 4-1, all at No. 1. The win is her fourth straight. Last season, Kononova compiled eight singles wins throughout the spring and finished with an 8-11 record at No. 1.
Since late October in the fall season, Kononova has won 14 of her last 17 singles matches. Kononova is a defending First-Team All-Conference USA team member who for her career now has four wins versus ITA top-125 players.
“I am very happy for Maria,” Lama said. “That was a big-time win over a great opponent. She played at an exceptionally high level and never let up.”
Kononova has now faced two opponents this season who are currently ranked in the top-35.
North Texas returns to the Oklahoma court Saturday afternoon as the Mean Green take on Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Follow the match with live stats.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
- North Texas has won the doubles point in three-straight matches
- Ivan Babić was in the singles lineup for the first time since the dual match opener at Oklahoma State
- Ivana Babić and Alexandra Heczey improve to 2-0 all-time in doubles
- Alexis Thoma won her 25th career singles win. Friday was her second win ever at No. 3.
- North Texas’ No. 1 doubles team of Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze are now 4-0 on the season.
1.Kononova/Kutubidze (NT) def. Miyazaki/Byrne (OU); 7-5
2.Babić/Heczey (NT) def. Stripp/Sethi (OU);6-4
3.Nash/Selim (OU) def. Thoma/Sasaki (NT); 2-6
1.Maria Kononova (NT) def. No. 16 Lily Miyazaki (OU); 6-2, 6-4
2.Mimi Fotopoulos (OU) def. Tamuna Kutubidze (NT); 3-6, 7-5, 4-6
3.Alexis Thoma (NT) def. Serena Nash (OU); 6-4, 6-3
4.Malene Stripp (OU) def. Minying Liang (NT); 4-6, 3-6
5.Julie Byrne (OU) def. Haruka Sasaki (NT); 6-3, 4-6, 1-6
6.Ann Selim ćOU) drf. Ivana Babić (NT); 1-6, 0-6