Mean Green Begin Dual Season

Jan. 20, 2017

STILLWATER, OK — The North Texas women’s tennis team opens the dual season at fifth-ranked Oklahoma State Saturday morning.

The Mean Green will take on the Cowgirls at the Greenwood Tennis Center at 10:00 a.m.

North Texas tennis fans can watch the match online here

North Texas beings the 2017 dual match season with high aspirations. The Mean Green return five women from last season’s team that collected 13 wins during the spring while posting an 8-1 home record. This season, North Texas hosts 15 home matches, including the C-USA Tournament in late April.

Of the five returners four are sophomores. Alexis Thoma is the lone senior. After last season, head coach Sujay Lama and Thoma sat down to discuss how this was now her team.

“When you have one senior, four sophomores and three freshmen, her role is so important,” Lama said. “The great thing about Alexis is she leads by example. She is one of the hardest workers and she loves the game. The others have seen her competitiveness and they’ve gotten better by just being around her.”

As per typical for North Texas tennis, the Mean Green have a competitive schedule early on. North Texas hosts its first match against Michigan State on Jan. 28, and will face Oklahoma, Arizona and others later in the season.

Along with Thoma, the Mean Green roster is filled with talented. Sophomores Tamuna Kutubidze and Maria Kononova have entered the 2017 season nationally ranked as the No. 54 doubles team. As freshmen last season, the two won 10 doubles matches at the No. 1 spot during the dual season and are on pace to be one of the most successful doubles team in program history. 



A First Team All-C-USA duo, the then-freshmen’s 10 wins tied for the most by any top doubles pairing at North Texas since 2005-06. They were 1-1 versus nationally ranked competition, closing the year with a win over the No. 48 team of Emily Smith and Katherine Ip of Rice. They have won 13 of their last 17 doubles matches.

Fellow sophomores Laura Arciniegas and Minying Liang also return after impressive freshmen seasons and having exciting 2016 fall season. Arciniegas won six singles matches this past fall and won a singles title at the SDSU Invite. She and Liang teamed up to win a doubles title at the SDSU Invite as well. 

This year’s North Texas tennis team also features three newcomers in freshmen Alexandra Heczey, Haruka Sasaki and Ivana Babić. All three showed growth over the fall and picked up victories at the Metroplex Mania last week. The three combined to win five singles matches at the invite.

The Mean Green defeated the Cowgirls in 2011, 4-3. Oklahoma State was No. 59 in country at the time.

Under Lama, North Texas has won 72 percent of its home matches. This season, the Mean Green play 15 home matches. 

Haruka Sasaki comes to Denton from Japan. Growing up, Sasaki experienced a lot of success at the amateur level. She reached the Round of 16 at the Under-18 All-Japan Inter-High Tennis Singles championship and finished sixth at the Under-16 All-Japan Toyota Junior Tennis Tournament.

Freshman Ivana Babić was ranked No. 5 in Croatia for the under-18 age group and has reached at least the semi-finals of nine national Croatian tournaments since 2009. 

The third freshman, Alexandra Heczey joins the North Texas women’s tennis team from Hungary where she was ranked as high as No. 26 for singles and No. 14 doubles. She also clinched a doubles and singles title for under 16 at the Budapest Championships.

Mean Green fans will be able to get a lot of early looks at their women’s tennis team. After North Texas returns from Stillwater, the Mean Green host three-straight home matches starting on Jan. 28. 

Between Feb. 17 and March 4, North Texas hosts six consecutive home matches before playing at TCU. When they return from For Worth on March 8, they then will host four more consecutive home matches starting on March 12.

North Texas Mean Green