North Texas Hosts SMU On Senior Day
Alexis Thoma Plays Final Regular Season Home Match
DENTON -- The North Texas tennis team will play its final regular season home match of the 2017 dual season against Metroplex rival SMU Thursday at 5 P.M.
The Mean Green will enter the match well rested. After a grueling March schedule that had North Texas playing eight matches in less than three weeks, they've played just one match since March 20. North Texas beat Memphis on the road on April 1, 4-1.
"We've been very lucky to have these two blocks of time with no matches to recover and get better," said head coach Sujay Lama. "We've used the time diligently and very intelligently."
The two-week break prior to the match in Memphis paid off for the Mean Green who swept the Tigers in singles after they dropped the doubles point for just the second time in the last 10 matches. Maria Kononova, Tamuna Kutubidze, Alexandra Heczey and Minying Liang all won their respected singles matches in straight sets over the Tigers with Heczey's victory being the clincher.
"We've made huge progress with our fitness and our game," Lama said about the time off. "We look fresh and confident and it showed at Memphis."
Thursday's match will be the last regular season home match for North Texas senior Alexis Thoma who is the Mean Green's only senior this season. The four-year starter has over 50 dual match spring victories and was a pivotal piece to the Mean Green reaching the semifinals of the conference tournament last season.
"In four years at North Texas, I don't remember (Thoma) giving a bad effort, Lama said. "She gives everything she has to everything she does. There are very few athletes that are able to do that."
Sophomore Minying Liang has caught fire at the No. 5 position over the past month. After returning from injury in late March, Liang has won three singles matches and had one of the top comeback performances on March 19 in the first set versus then No. 17 Kansas.
Liang has compiled eight singles wins this season, which is two more than she had all of last spring.
North Texas' No. 1 doubles team of Kononova and Kutubidze remain unbeaten on the year at 13-0. Additionally, Kononova looks to further her already record setting season in singles. Kononova's singles victory at Memphis gave her 15 on the year, which is a program record for dual match wins.
The Mean Green got an early look at the Mustangs in January at the Metroplex Mania right before the season began. North Texas' Haruka Sasaki, Heczey and Kononova defeated their SMU opponents all in straight sets at the hidden dual format invite.
"This is an opportunity for us to further build momentum headed into the conference tournament," Lama said. "We've had a great week of training and practice and believe we have something special."