Kononova Loses In NCAA Championships First Round
Kononova Falls 6-1, 6-1
WINSTON-SALEM, NC — North Texas women’s tennis junior Maria Kononova lost her first round match of the NCAA Singles Championships, 6-1, 6-1, to Texas Tech’s Felicity Maltby Wednesday afternoon.
Kononova, the first in program history to reach the 64-player invite NCAA Singles Championships, fell behind early and struggled to make a comeback.
“I’m definitely not happy with the outcome of the match,” Kononova said. “That’s not how I was planning to start the tournament. But (Maltby) played really well. I am happy that I could get this experience. It will help me next year for sure.“
After taking the early lead, Maltby, who had just finished playing with her Red Raiders team on the same courts in the NCAA Team Championships, went on the attack and didn’t give Kononova much breathing room to get into a rhythm.
“Maria ran into a player who played incredibly well,” said head coach Sujay Lama. “Although we are disappointed with the outcome, we are excited about the invaluable experience Maria got and that she gets one more shot at it next year. She will use this loss as fuel to work hard to attain bigger and better results next year.”
Though her junior season came to an end on Wednesday, Kononova accomplished many other program firsts and continued to raise the level of tennis at North Texas as a whole.
After having a breakout sophomore campaign, Kononova began her junior season by earning a No. 41 preseason ranking, which was a program-best ranking.
Soon after, Kononova was invited to the Hall of Fame Intercollegiate Tennis Association Grass Court Invitational, the first in program-history to do so. At the Hall of Fame Invite, Kononova beat North Carolina’s Alle Sanford who ended the regular season ranked No. 27.
In October, Kononova became the first Mean Green women’s tennis player to win her ITA Women’s All-American Championships first-round match as she beat Arizona State’s Kelley Anderson in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
At the ITA Texas Regional in late October, Kononova earned the region’s No. 3 seed and reached the tournament’s semifinals where she lost to Texas’ Bianca Turati who was the nation’s No. 1 ranked tennis player for most of the spring and earned the No. 1 overall ranking in the NCAA Singles Championships.
In doubles at the ITA Texas Regional, Kononova and doubles partner Tamuna Kutubidze were the nationally ranked No. 22 team and earned a No. 1 seed in the regional. Kononova and Kutubidze reached the semifinals of the regional.
Kononova and Kutubidze also claimed the Milwaukee Classic Doubles Draw championship in the fall.
In the spring, Kononova overcome injuries to put together another successful season that included a 9-5 record and a historic win on Feb. 23 over the nation’s No 2 ranked player, the highest ranked player a Mean Green tennis player had ever beaten. Surpassing her victory last year over the nation’s No. 16 ranked player from Oklahoma.
“I think I had a solid year, however, I wish I could do better,” Kononova said. “I have to keep practicing and getting better. I can’t wait for my senior year to come and see what it brings with it.”