Mean Green Look To Get On A Roll
North Texas Hosts New Mexico State And Nevada
DENTON — The North Texas tennis team is in the middle of a six-match home stand and welcomes New Mexico State on Friday at 2 p.m. and Nevada on Saturday at 1 p.m. to the Waranch Tennis Complex.
The Mean Green (2-6) are looking to ignite and build momentum before they host the conference championship in late April. Eight matches in to the season and there’s reason to believe they aren’t far.
In its most recent match, North Texas had a comeback performance fall one set short as they lost 4-3 to Washington State this past Sunday. The Mean Green trailed 3-0 but found a way to tie the match. Though frustrating that they couldn’t finish the huge comeback, head coach Sujay Lama was encouraged by his team’s fight and sees the young talent coming together.
“The pieces are there,” Lama said. “It’s just a matter of having a couple matches in a row where they all come together. We’re playing with such a young team it’s going to take some time but what we saw against Washington State was good.”
The loss was North Texas’ third this season by a score of 4-3. Four of North Texas’ eight matches this season have been decided by one point. The Mean Green had four matches all of last season — out of 23 total matches — decided by one point. All of North Texas’ narrow matches this season have come against power-five opponents.
“We are playing a tough schedule, so when get to the conference championship we are tested and experienced," Lama said. "The way we battled against Wasington State gave us a lot of experience we didn't have before."
Consistency can be hard to find from underclassmen sometimes, but sophomore Maria Kononova has been exactly that. She’s won seven straight matches, is undefeated in doubles and on Tuesday was nationally ranked No. 74 by the ITA. It’s her first time being ranked.
Showing a little more recent consistency has been Alexis Thoma. The senior has won three of her last four matches at the No. 3 spot and had a hard fought 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 win against Washington State on Sunday. It was Thoma’s third win this season against a power-five opponent.
Where Lama would like to find more consistency is in doubles. His No. 1 team of Kononova and sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze are undefeated this season but the pairings at No. 2 and No. 3 have changed and the results have varied. Earlier in the season, North Texas went on a consecutive three-match streak of winning the doubles point. But since ending the streak on Feb. 11, the Mean Green have yet to win the doubles point in a match.
“We need to put the pressure on the other team,” Lama said about the importance of winning the doubles point. “With more experience the pieces will continue to come together. We’ve come a long way since the season began. We believe we are so close. We just need a few matches to get on a roll.”