Kononova, Kutubidze Win Milwaukee Classic

Sept. 24, 2017

DENTON — North Texas tennis juniors Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze won the Milwaukee Classic Doubles Draw championship Sunday afternoon.

The No. 22 ranked national doubles team beat Arkansas 8-2.

“Today was the best match we’ve played together,” Kutubidze said. “We went in that huge arena and represented UNT and left with a trophy. Everything worked today. We could hear people in the stands saying ‘wow’.”

Kononova and Kutubidze, who were the No. 1-seed in the doubles tournament, reached the finals of the classic after beating Iowa 8-4 in the semifinals.

“The fans saying ‘wow’ gave me extra power and motivation to show them who we are,” Kutubidze said. “Now they know.”

While Kononova and Kutubidze were beating the Razorbacks in Wisconsin, the rest of the Mean Green tennis team was winning more matches at the Rice Invitational in Houston.

Freshman Nidhi Surapaneni won her Rice Invitational flight singles championship, 6-2, 6-0. She defeated Sam Houston State’s Mila Milanovic. 

Saturday, Surapaneni and Minying Liang claimed a doubles flight championship with a 7-5 win over SMU. Sunday, Liang won a consolation bracket match with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Kansas’ Tanya Nikolaeva.

Liang and the rest of the Mean Green tennis team is giving praise to their successful start to the fall season to their strength and conditioning. This summer, the program added strength and conditioning coach Rick Lefebvre to its staff. 



“Everyone has improved a lot physically as well as mentally,” Liang said. “I’m proud of them. This is our first tournament of the fall but I already feel like we’re ready for the spring. We’re in great shape and only getting better.” 

Also winning a consolation match Sunday was sophomore Alexandra Heczey, who beat SMU’s Charline Anselmo 7-6(10), 4-6, 6-2.

In total, North Texas won 18 matches at the three-day Rice Invitational. Combined with the Milwaukee Classic, North Texas won a total of 23 matches and posted a .774 winning percentage in the two weekend tournaments.

Kononova and Kutubidze will return to the court next weekend when they travel to Malibu, California, to play in the ITA All-American Invite.

The rest of the team will play next at the Texas ITA Regional beginning Oct. 13 from Fort Worth. Kononova and Kutubidze will also compete in the regional.


Kononova/Kutubidze def. Jurasic/Oparenovic (Arkansas), 8-2


Liang def. Nikolaeva (Kansas), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Heczey def. Anselmo (SMU), 7-6(10), 4-6, 6-2
Nicolaou (Houston) def. Sasaki, 6-3, 6-1
Surapaneni def. Milanovic (SHSU), 6-2, 6-0
Natal (UT Arlington) def. Babic, 6-4, 6-1

North Texas Mean Green