Tennis Unable to Halt No. 28 Houston's Win Streak

Junior Anastasiya Shestakova lost her first match at No. 2 singles since March 1 against Tulsa, which was also played at SMU's indoor courts.
April 5, 2015

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DALLAS -- With the North Texas tennis team down 3-2 against No. 28 Houston on Sunday morning, Alexis Thoma and Agustina Valenzuela both had to win in order for the Mean Green to pull off the upset. On the flip side, if the Cougars clinched one more point, the team match would end and the other would go unfinished.

But the odds were stacked against them, as Valenzuela faced a 5-0 deficit in the third and deciding set, while Thoma had just dropped the second set. Playing on adjacent courts, a yell suddenly came from one side: "Come on Agu, we're in this together, you and I!"

The encouragement of her teammates and adrenaline of being down to her last gasp earned Valenzuela two games in the third set before she ultimately fell to Houston's Tina Rupert 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-2. That result ended the match with the Cougars winning 4-2, as the visitors extended their incredible streak to 15 consecutive matches.

Head coach Sujay Lama was unhappy with the loss, but extremely proud of his team's effort as a whole. Especially that of Kseniya Bardabush, who won 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 singles over Despoina Vogasari, the 42nd-ranked singles player in the country.

"We left it all out on the court today," Lama said. "That was one heck of a battle against one of the hottest teams in the nation. We can hold our heads high knowing we gave it our all."

Things started off very well for North Texas, as the team clinched the doubles point in dramatic fashion. With the duo of Franziska Sprinkmeyer and Bardabush down 5-4 and facing a match point deficit, the No. 1 singles pair rebounded to win the next three games and notch a 7-5 victory over Elena Kordolaimi and Vogasari. On Court 2, Anastasiya Shestakova and Thoma earned a 6-4 win against Houston's team of Mina Markovic and Rupert to give the team a 1-0 lead.

"Our doubles play is clicking and we had unbelievable energy today," Lama boasted. "That comeback at the No. 1 position was huge for our confidence and gave us a huge boost."

But singles was another story, altogether. Ana Sofia Cordero and Sprinkmeyer dropped two-set matches at No. 6 and No. 4, respectively, and Shestakova lost to No. 118 Kordolaimi by a score of 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Shestakova - who had won five straight matches at No. 2 singles - and the rest of the Mean Green hope to bounce back in the coming week. North Texas travels to UT Arlington on April 11, then comes back to Denton for the team's final match of the regular season on April 12 against South Alabama. The Lady Mavs sit at 12-4, while the Jaguars are a perfect 16-0 through matches played April 4.

Doubles Results

1. Bardabush/Sprinkmeyer defeat Kordolaimi/Vogasari, 7-5
2. Shestakova/Thoma defeat Markovic/Rupert, 6-4
3. Cordero/Valenzuela vs. Lorenzo/Martin goes unfinished, 5-6

Singles Results

1. Bardabush defeats No. 42 Vogasari, 7-5, 6-2
2. Shestakova loses to No. 118 Kordolaimi, 6-4, 7-6 (3)
3. Valenzuela loses to Rupert, 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-2
4. Sprinkmeyer loses to Markovic, 6-1, 6-4
5. Thoma vs. Martin goes unfinished, 6-3, 3-6, 2-2
6. Cordero loses to Lorenzo, 6-3, 6-3



North Texas Mean Green