North Texas Sweeps Old Dominion 4-0
April 21, 2017
DENTON -- For the second straight season the North Texas tennis team is headed to the Conference USA Championship semifinals to play Rice.
The No. 5-seeded Mean Green defeated the No. 4 seed Old Dominion Monarchs 4-0 Friday afternoon in the C-USA Championship quarterfinal at the Waranch Tennis Complex.
North Texas senior Alexis Thoma led the way with a doubles win at No. 3 and the match's clinching win in singles at No. 3.
"When you're a senior and you play in a tournament like this it gives you an extra edge," Thoma said. "You don't want the season to end."
Thoma set up her doubles partner Minying Liang for winners throughout the doubles match against the Monarchs (11-10). The 6-4 win kept North Texas (11-11) alive to win the doubles point, which they claimed following a win at No. 1. Thoma then won the match for the Mean Green in singles with an aggressive start and a consistent finish.
Her 6-3, 6-3 win and sophomore Laura Arciniegas' 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 6 were far contrasts from Thursday's first-round match against Middle Tennessee. Thoma lost 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 in singles and Arciniegas fell 6-3, 6-2.
"So proud of how (Thoma) finished the match," said head coach Sujay Lama. "She definitely learned from yesterday to not get ahead of herself and it was very fitting that our senior won it for us."
Lama attributed momentum from Thursday's tight 4-3 win over Middle Tennessee for the more aggressive but also loose performance in Friday's quarterfinal match. The Mean Green have now strung together five straight wins and won the doubles point in the last four.
"Getting that doubles point was huge," Lama said. "(Thoma) carried us in doubles and it gave us the energy and momentum for singles."
It was the 13th time this season North Texas claimed the doubles point.
Sophomores Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze clinched the doubles point with a comeback 6-4 win at No. 1. The win improves their record to 17-0 and sets the program record for doubles wins in a single dual match season in North Texas history.
"Great teams know how to win even when they aren't playing at their best," Lama said. "They've been unbelievable all year. They find a way when they really need it and they showed that again today."
Kononova and Kutubidze trailed in the early half of their doubles match but played well to keep it close and commanded the games. They took a 4-3 lead and then finished strong to win 6-4. North Texas' No. 1 doubles team hasn't given up more than four points in a match since Feb. 10 when they beat Oklahoma's No. 1 team 7-5.
"I was very happy with how we started doubles today," Kononova said. "(Thursday) it took us a couple games to feel the game and start dictating points."
Kononova got things started for North Texas in singles with a quick 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 1 over the No. 106 ranked ITA player in the country. Kononova, who is ranked No. 76, is 5-2 on the year against top 125 ranked opponents and 7-3 in her two years at North Texas.
"I was very focused and trying to improve on some things from (Thursday)," Kononova said. "I made the right decisions in important moments and I got the early lead."
"(Thursday's) match prepared us very well and we have to carry the same determination for (Saturday)," she added.
North Texas will face the No. 1 seed Rice Owls at noon on Saturday. Rice is ranked No. 37 in the country and has won the C-USA Championship four years in a row. They also defeated North Texas last year in the semifinals 4-1.
MEAN GREEN QUICK HITTERS
- North Texas lost to ODU 4-3 on March 3.
- Kononova improves to 18-4 on the year in singles.
- North Texas' five-match winning streak is a season best.
1. Tamuna Kutubidze/Maria Kononova (NT) def. Ingrid Vojcinakova/Holly Hutchinson (ODU) 6-4
2. Marijana Novakovic/Nataliia Vlasova (ODU) def. Ivana Babic/Alexandra Heczey (NT) 6-2
3. Minying Liang/Alexis Thoma (NT) def. Natalya Malenko/Adriana Rajkovic (ODU) 6-4
1. #76 Maria Kononova (NT) def. #106 Holly Hutchinson (ODU) 6-2, 6-2
2. Tamuna Kutubidze (NT) vs. Ingrid Vojcinakova (ODU) 1-6, 4-5, unfinished
3. Alexis Thoma (NT) def. Natalya Malenko (ODU) 6-3, 6-3
4. Alexandra Heczey (NT) vs. Eliska Petrackova (ODU) 6-1, 3-6, 0-1, unfinished
5. Minying Liang (NT) vs. Nataliia Vlasova (ODU) 6-1, 1-6, 5-2, unfinished
6. Laura Arciniegas (NT) def. Marijana Novakovic (ODU) 6-4, 6-4