Tennis Sweeps UTSA, Remains Undefeated From Waranch
North Texas Puts Together Complete Performance In 4-0 Win Over Roadrunners
Freshman Tamuna Kutubidze clinched the Mean Green's third straight win on Sunday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
DENTON — Seven times the No. 73 North Texas tennis team has played at the Waranch Tennis Complex this season, and seven times it has celebrated a victory by the match’s end.
That was the story again on Sunday as the Mean Green took down Conference USA rival UTSA by way of a 4-0 score to earn its first sweep of the year. With wins in its last three contests, North Texas is now 9-8 this season and has built up the momentum that has been a focal point for the last half of the regular season.
“Today was just another example of how we have a bunch of warriors out there,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “Not one kid gave up and that defines our group. Our team will fight and stick together. If you do that consistently while winning the doubles point, it’s going to be hard to beat us.”
For the second straight match, North Texas controlled the team portion of the day. Freshman Tamuna Kutubidze joined senior Agustina Valenzuela in picking up the first doubles win, a 6-3 decision over UTSA’s Charlene Tiwari and Lina Hallgren, before the duo of freshman Maria Kononova and senior Anastasiya Shestakova defeated Miriam Rosell Canudas and Jacobea Junger, 6-4, at the top spot.
With the doubles point in hand, the team’s seniors used the early momentum to fuel a hot start in individual play, with each making quick work of their Roadrunner opponents in two sets.
Valenzuela picked up the first singles win at the No. 4 position, coming in the form of a 6-4, 6-1 win over Tiwari to put North Texas up 2-0 in match play. Shestakova wrapped up her match just minutes later with a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Alena Shichkova.
As Lama was quick to point out, the Mean Green seniors are no strangers to leading the way.
“There is no substitute for experience,’” he said. “They’ve been doing this all year long, and we know that we can count on them to steady the ship when we need it. I think their composure trickles down to the rest of the team and it showed in our singles play today.”
Behind its seniors, North Texas ran out to an early 3-0 lead in the match, but the quick pace stalled after the team’s first two singles wins. Outside from Valenzuela and Shestakova, every Mean Green player fell in the first set, meaning someone would need to come from behind to clinch the match for North Texas.
That someone was freshman Tamuna Kutubidze.
Kutubidze - like each of her Mean Green teammates - rallied back in the second frame and showed no signs of letting up in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Alena Shichkova. As the Tbilisi, Georgia, native said after the match, she thrives under the spotlight.
“I always say that I love playing under pressure,” Kutubidze said. “It’s great knowing that you can clinch the match for your team. Whenever I’m in those situations, I feel like I do much better and today was another example of that.”
North Texas will hit the road this week for a 5 p.m. showdown with SMU on Tuesday, April 5. The match will be played at the SMU Tennis Complex in Dallas.
1. Maria Kononova vs. M. Rosell Canudas; 3-6, 7-6(4), 2-1 (unfinished)
2. Tamuna Kutubidze def. Jacobea Junger; 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
3. Anastasiya Shestakova def. Alena Shichkova; 6-3, 6-1
4. Agustina Valenzuela def. Charlene Tiwari; 6-4, 6-1
5. Minying Liang vs. Lina Hallgren; 4-6, 6-2, 3-3 (unfinished)
6. Alexis Thoma vs. Nicole Karaklis; 4-6, 6-0, 3-4 (unfinished)
1. Kononova/Shestakova def. Rosell Canudas/Junger, 6-4
2. Valenzuela/Kutubidze def. Tiwari/Hallgren, 6-3
3. Arciniegas/Thoma vs. Shichkova/Madroñal Medina, 5-3 (unfinished)