Complete Team Win

Haruka Sasaki (Photo by Mark Woods)
Haruka Sasaki (Photo by Mark Woods)
April 14, 2018

PLANO — The Mean Green tennis team closed out its regular season with an all-around team victory over UT Arlington Saturday afternoon. 

North Texas (8-13) set the tone in doubles and carried the momentum over to singles, taking a 2-0 lead early and finishing off the Mavericks (13-8) to a score of 4-1. 

“We competed on every court and battled as a team today,” said head coach Sujay Lama. “This was an excellent way to head into the conference tournament. I’m very proud of our team.”

Saturday marked the third straight year the Mean Green defeated UTA and as in the previous matches against the Mavericks, North Texas received a strong contribution from the bottom of its lineup.

After winning the doubles point and taking a 1-0 lead, UNT’s No. 4 Alexandra Heczey cruised to a quick 6-1, 6-4 victory over her opponent and increased the Mean Green’s lead to two points. The early victory by Heczey put UNT in the driver’s seat.

At the bottom of the lineup, sophomore Haruka Sasaki put together one of her most impressive matches of the year, if not her UNT career, by winning 6-2, 6-3 and giving her team a 3-1 lead.

Sasaki forced her opponent into tough shots and kept the pressure on.

In the second set, on four consecutive points, Sasaki, who grinds her opponents, placed her shots in spots where UTA’s Klara Mrcela could barely get her racket on the ball. With each point, the confidence in Sasaki’s face grew. Her motivating yells of “come on let’s go,” grew louder and louder until she had her opponent on the ropes.

“Throughout this season, Haruka has matured and toughened up,” Lama said. “We had a heart to heart conversation earlier in the year and she’s grown a lot and it shown. She’s put together two consecutive really great matches.”



Sasaki has now won four of her last seven matches and improves to 6-6 on the year and a 3-2 at the No. 6 spot in the lineup.

Junior Tamuna Kutubidze clinched the match for the Mean Green with an exhausting and stressful 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 2.

After losing the first set, Kutubidze collected herself and battled from her early deficit to win the match for UNT and have the regular season end on a high note before they leave for Norfolk, Virginia, and the conference tournament next week.

“Today was our best day competing on every court,” Lama said. “We needed this. This was a great team win and a great win for moral before the conference tournament. We’ve played really well the last few matches and this was great.”



  1. #57 Maria Kononova (UNT) vs. Agustina Serio (UTA) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 1-0, unfinished
  2. Tamuna Kutubidze (UNT) def. Anna Wichert (UTA) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
  3. Minying Liang (UNT) vs. Momoka Horiguchi (UTA) 2-6, 6-0, 4-5, unfinished
  4. Alexandra Heczey (UNT) def. Almudena Boza (UTA) 6-1, 6-4
  5. Lucia Natal (UTA) def. Nidhi Surapaneni (UNT) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
  6. Haruka Sasaki (UNT) def. Klara Mrcela (UTA) 6-2, 6-3 


  1. Maria Kononova/Minying Liang (UNT) vs. Agustina Serio/Anna Wichert (UTA) 5-6, unfinished
  2. Alexandra Heczey/Nidhi Surapaneni (UNT) def. Nanaka Takeuchi/Momoka Horiguchi (UTA) 6-1
  3. Tamuna Kutubidze/Haruka Sasaki (UNT) def. Almudena Boza/Carla Cerdan Vives (UTA) 6-4
North Texas Mean Green