DENTON, Texas -- North Texas tennis junior Valentina Starkova took home second place at the annual Cotton Bowl Classic over the winter break.
A native of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Starkova was the only member of the Mean Green to stay in Denton to train and compete in a tournament.
"We are very proud of Val's preparation over the break," said associate head coach Jeff Maren. "She has been practicing every day on her own, and now her results in this tournament show the fruit of her efforts. She will be more than ready to compete when the season begins in January."
Starkova won five matches in straight sets to reach the championship match against TCU's Millie Nichols.
Nichols, who transferred to TCU from Tennessee, jumped out to an early lead, taking the first set 6-0 and leading the second set 4-1 before Starkova mounted her comeback. The junior transfer from Arkansas would win the second set 7-6.
The third set was a back-and-forth effort from both players, with Nichols taking the deciding set and the match with a 6-0, 6-7, 6-3 victory.
"I have a good feeling overall after the tournament," said Starkova. "I am glad that I participated, and gave a hundred percent effort. I was a bit upset with the final match, but on the other side the loss made me more determined to work even harder and pointed out all the aspects of the game I want to improve."
Starkova and the North Texas tennis team will return to action at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational Jan. 13-15 in Ft. Meyers, Fla., before opening the spring dual match season at Lamar on Jan. 21.