Freshman Kononova Earns C-USA Player of the Week

Feb. 23, 2016

Freshman Maria Kononova picked up her first career C-USA Player of the Week honor on Tuesday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)

DENTON — Coming off another strong weekend that saw the North Texas tennis team go undefeated, Maria Kononova has been named Conference USA Player of the Week, the league announced on Tuesday. It is the first career award for the Mean Green’s top freshman.

While the North Texas coaching staff has tinkered with its lineup early in the season, Kononova has consistently played at the No. 1 spot for the Mean Green. Over the weekend, she went undefeated in both of her singles matches while holding an advantage in two doubles contests that went unfinished.

“I'm really happy to earn [this award] and now I'm looking forward to continuing to show my best tennis every time I step on the court,” Kononova said. “Since the beginning of the season I have worked a lot on my game, so I think I deserve this honor and now it inspires me to work even harder for the next achievements.”

The Ufa, Russia, native kicked off the weekend’s two matches with a victory against VCU’s Olgo Barshchevskaya, using a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 score to take down the No. 83-ranked singles player. She followed that performance with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 win against Liberty’s Maria Khval.

In doubles play, Kononova joined classmate Tamuna Kutubidze in gaining an advantage in two doubles matches before play was called off. Against VCU, the freshmen duo held a 6-5 lead over Barshchevskaya and Darya Berezhnaya, while being up 5-4 against Liberty’s Evangeline Crist and Valerie Thong.

"Maria's maturity and work ethic as a freshmen is what stands out the most,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “She puts in the extra work to be able to compete at the No. 1 spot in the line up. It's great to see her growth to this point on the season."

Now riding a four-match win streak, Kononova and her Mean Green teammates will be back on the court for two matches from Oklahoma. No. 68 North Texas is set to face No. 14 Tulsa at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, before taking on USF at 12 p.m. on Saturday.

To view C-USA’s full release, click here.



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