Mean Green Power Past Columbia, Win 6-1
North Texas Finishes Off Lions
March 16, 2017
DENTON -- The North Texas tennis team took an early lead Thursday afternoon against Columbia and kept up the attack through the end of the match to win 6-1.
On Thursday, the Mean Green (6-10) won their seventh doubles point in their last eight matches. They then finished off the Lions (3-8) by winning three straight early singles matches to take a match clinching 4-0 lead. They then finished the match by winning two of the final three singles matches.
"It was a big win, because we've had some tough close losses," said head coach Sujay Lama. "A victory like this really energizes us."
"Doubles was just fabulous today," Lama added.
North Texas began Thursday's match by winning its 10th doubles point this season. The Mean Green won at No. 1 and No. 2 both by a score of 6-2. Sophomores Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze set the program record on Tuesday for doubles wins in a single season and they built on that Thursday.
North Texas clinched the doubles point at the No. 2 spot where senior Alexis Thoma and freshman Alexandra Heczey stayed on the attack to win 6-2. Sophomore Laura Arciniegas and freshman Ivana Babic were tied 4-4 with their Columbian opponent at No. 3 when Thoma and Heczey clinched.
"They were aggressive and dictating the entire match," Lama said of Thoma and Heczey in doubles. "That really set a tone."
The Lions didn't back down though, and challenged the Mean Green on every singles court. To open the first set, Kononova -- the No. 82 ranked singles player in the country -- trailed 3-0. However, Kononova stayed composed and continued to attack and won the first set 7-5. She'd also won the second set 7-5 to win. Her victory at the No. 1 spot clinched the match for the Mean Green. Kononova has now won four straight singles matches and won 13 of her last 15.
Kutubidze was the first Mean Green tennis player to finish her match. The No. 2 player battled through windy conditions and a slower pace of play than her preference to win 6-4, 6-1. She's now won six of her last eight singles matches.
Sophomore Minying Liang had the most impressive performance of the afternoon for the Mean Green. Liang won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5. Her win set up Kononova's to be the clinching match. Liang has now won six of her last seven singles matches.
"This was huge," Lama reiterated. "We needed momentum and a good result headed into the end of our season and our match on Sunday."
Columbia was coming off a 4-2 win over Marshall. They also just narrowly lost to FIU in early February. FIU is currently in first place of the Conference USA standings.
North Texas hosts No. 17 Kansas at noon. The Jayhawks will be the sixth ranked team the Mean Green have played this season.
MEAN GREEN QUICK HITTERS
- Kononova is two singles wins shy of setting the program record for wins in a season.
- Kononova will likely face the No. 74 ranked Anastasia Rychagova of Kansas on Sunday. Kononova has beaten four ranked opponents this season. She is a good friend of Rychagova.
1. #77 Maria Kononova/Tamuna Kutubidze (NT) def. Rima Asatrain/Andrea Kevakian (COL) 6-2
2. Alexis Thoma/Alexandra Heczey (NT) def. Adi Milstein/Ali Pollack (COL) 6-2
3. Laura Arciniegas/Ivana Babic (NT) vs. Renee Ren/Alexandra Solovyev (COL) 4-4, unfinished
1. #82 Maria Kononova (NT) def. Alexandra Solovyev (COL) 7-5, 7-5
2. Tamuna Kutubidze (NT) def. Andrea Kevakian (COL) 6-4, 6-1
3. Alexis Thoma (NT) def. Ali Pollack (COL) 6-1, 6-4
4. Alexandra Heczey (NT) def. Rima Asatrain (COL) 3-6, 7-5, 10-2
5. Minying Liang (NT) def. Renee Ren (COL) 6-1, 6-2
6. Adi Milstein (COL) def. Haruka Sasaki (NT) 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 10-8