Mean Green Face Talented Tulsa Team In Dallas
North Texas Looks For Second Win In A Row
DALLAS — The North Texas women’s tennis team will host Tulsa Friday night at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas.
The Mean Green (1-2) take on the Hurricane (5-1) at 6 p.m. at the indoor facility. Bent Tree Country Club is located at 5201 Westgrove Dr., Dallas, TX 75248.
North Texas is coming off its first win of the season, which it accomplished in dominating fashion, 6-1 versus Lamar. The win over Lamar this past Sunday came less than 24 hours after losing to Michigan State, 4-3.
“We felt like we let one slip away against Michigan State but I was proud of how we shook it off and played with aggression against Lamar,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “Tulsa will be another big test for us. They are a team that’s always one of the best teams in their conference and a contender to make the tournament.”
The Hurricane have reached the NCAA tournament the last two seasons and are projected to compete for another trip this year.
In last Sunday’s win over Lamar, sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze made her debut in singles. The region’s No. 14 ranked singles player won her match, 6-1, 7-6(7-5), at the No. 2 position. Kutubidze improved her overall singles record to 14-4 and 12-3 at No. 2.
Having Kutubidze back in the singles lineup made a big impact on the rest of the team, as there was less pressure on them to step up. Furthermore, having Kutubidze’s energy made a difference as well.
“The entire team really feeds off having Tamuna in the lineup,” Lama said. “She plays with such fire and emotion. She’s a ‘big match player’. When she’s on the court everyone feels that aggression she brings and the confidence she exudes.”
Sunday’s match was the second consecutive match Kutubidze and sophomore Maria Kononova played together in doubles.
The nation’s 54th ranked doubles team is off to a 2-0 start this year. The doubles team defeated Michigan State 6-0 on Saturday and then turned around the next day to win 6-2 over Lamar. The duo has now won 12 matches together at the No. 1 position since the start of last season. Their 12 wins are already tied for the seventh most No. 1 doubles wins in program history. Their .705 winning percentage is sixth best at North Texas.
Having Kutubidze and Kononova back together is huge for the Mean Green in helping them win the doubles point, something Lama always stresses.
However, the Mean Green can’t just lean on the nationally ranked pair to earn them the point. Sunday versus Lamar, it was senior Alexis Thoma and freshman Alexandra Heczey who clinched the doubles point for North Texas. The pair defeated their opponent 6-2.
Heczey has had a terrific start to her freshman season and has made noticeable strides in the past few months. The Hungary native has won her last two singles matches and five of her last seven dating back to November.
“It’s been an absolute joy,” Lama said about Heczey’s growth. “This is why we coach. We see them grow on and off court and we’re seeing that right now with her. She and Haruka (Sasaki) are starting to see the correlation between hard work and results. Winning doesn’t just come when you show up. You have to put in the time.”
Friday, North Texas will look to see more growth from Heczey and the rest of its team as it hopes to knock off Tulsa for the first time in program history.