Tennis Earns Three All-Conference Honors
Kononova Voted First-Team All-Conference For Third Straight Year
IRVING — Mean Green tennis junior Maria Kononova on Friday was voted All-Conference USA Singles First-Team for a third straight year.
Along with Kononova, UNT teammate Tamuna Kutubidze was voted All-Conference USA Singles Second-Team and Kononova and her doubles partner Minying Liang were voted All-Conference USA Doubles Second Team.
The Mean Green have now earned 23 all-conference honors since head coach Sujay Lama arrived in Denton 12 years ago.
Kononova, who is waiting to see if she’ll become the first North Texas tennis player to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament, is currently ranked No. 58 in the country and posted a 9-6 record at the No. 1 position in the lineup this season.
Kononova’s year got off to a great start in the fall when she defeated North Carolina’s stud freshman Alle Sanford who had a top 500 WTA world ranking and as the year went on reached a top 25 collegiate ranking in the country. A few months later, Kononova became the first UNT tennis player to reach the second round of the prestigious Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championship.
In February, Kononova further established herself as one of the best tennis players in program history and in the country as she beat the nation’s No. 2 ranked player in Florida International’s Andrea Lazaro in three sets.
Kononova has racked up 10 career victories against ranked opponents and has a .666 winning percentage against ranked opponents. On April 12 at SMU, Kononova picked up her 34th career duel match victory at the No. 1 spot in the lineup, moving her into third-place in program history as just a junior.
Friday’s two all-conference honors give her six for her career.
The junior Kutubidze earned her fifth all-conference honor on Friday and was also named to an all-conference team for a third straight year.
Kutubidze led the Mean Green in duel match victories with 10, posting a 10-5 record. She was a perfect 3-0 at the No.1 spot of the lineup when filling in for Kononova when Kononova was out with an injury and she was 7-5 at her normal No. 2 position.
She also led the team with three matches clinched. Kutubidze clinched the Mean Green’s Feb. 3 4-3 victory over Iowa with an emotional comeback.
Kutubidze picked up her 10th singles win in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament and with it has done something that even Kononova hasn’t accomplished. Kutubidze has won 10 or more matches every year at North Texas and currently has 34 career singles victories, 29 coming at the No. 2 position.
Kononova and Liang earned their first all-conference doubles team honor as a pair. The duo weren’t paired together until Feb. 25 but quickly gelled. The Mean Green’s No. 1 doubles team won five of their first six matches and ended the year on a three match-winning streak. They led the team in doubles wins and beat three opponents by a score of 6-1, including No. 44 Old Dominion’s No.1 doubles team in the C-USA quarterfinals.
The duo earned the all-conference honor despite never playing together in a real match until their Feb. 25 debut.
The honor is Liang’s second all-conference. The junior was named third-team all-conference for singles last year after she posted a 10-6 record.