Mean Green Tennis Hauls In Record-Setting Five All-Conference Awards
Four Different Player Named All-Conference
IRVING -- The North Texas tennis team collected five Conference USA All-Conference awards Friday afternoon. It's the most all-conference awards under 11th year head coach Sujay Lama.
North Texas' Maria Kononova, Tamuna Kutubidze, Alexis Thoma and Minying Liang were all named to an all-conference singles team. Kononova and Kutubidze were also voted first team all-conference for doubles.
"I'm very happy for all four women, " Lama said. "They are all very deserving of this recognition. To have three underclassmen on the all-conference team is a testimony to our depth and the program's bright future."
- Kononova first team all-conference for singles
- Kutubidze second team all-conference for singles
- Thoma third team all-conference for singles
- Liang third team all-conference for singles
- Kononova and Kutubidze first team all-conference doubles
Kononova, a sophomore, has been named first team all-conference two years in a row. The Ufa, Russia native set the North Texas program record for dual match singles wins this year with 18. Additionally, her .782 win percentage in singles this season is second best in Mean Green history and only .006 off the record.
On March 21, the Mean Green's No. 1 reached her highest Intercollegiate Tennis Associate ranking at 61. It was also the highest ranking a North Texas tennis player had ever been placed at. She ended the year with a 4-2 record against players ranked in the top 125. On February 10 she beat Oklahoma's Lily Miyazaki in straight sets. Miyazaki was ranked No. 16 at the time and in the top 600 in the world. It is the highest ranked opponent a North Texas tennis player has ever beaten.
For Kutubidze this is the second consecutive year she has been voted on to an all-conference team.
Kutubidze, who missed the start of the season recovering from surgery, had the second most singles wins this past season for North Texas with 11. North Texas' No. 2 ended the year winning seven of her last nine matches. The sophomore's 24 dual match singles wins are the second most on the team over the past two seasons and just two behind Kononova's 26. Kutubidze won 13 matches a year ago and was named first team all-conference.
For the second straight season Kononova and Kutubidze were named first team all-conference for doubles. The Mean Green's No. 1 doubles team posted by far the conference's best record at 17-1. They set program doubles records in wins, winning percentage and winning streak (17).
"Maria had an amazing year and Tamuna showed great resilience coming off surgery," Lama said. "They are only going to get better and are going to continue to help lead our program over the next two years."
For Thoma and Liang this is their first all-conference recognition of their careers.
Thoma, the Mean Green's only senior, won a personal-best nine matches this season, all at the No. 3 position. She clinched a team best two matches this year, including the Mean Green's 4-3 win over Wisconsin.
Thoma leaves North Texas with over 50 career singles wins and reached the conference semifinals three our of her four years.
"I am delighted to see our senior and captain end her career with this honor," Lama said. "She is one of the hardest workers to play at North Texas and deserves this as much as anyone else."
Liang earns her first honor after ending the year winning five of her last six singles matches. She clinched the Mean Green's C-USA Championship first round match against Middle Tennessee in comeback fashion. She faced match point in the third set and sent the match to a tiebreaker.
Predominately seeing time at the No. 5 position, the sophomore doubled her win total from last year and picked up a couple victories at the No. 4 spot.
"Minying was a great story for our program," Lama said. "She matured both on and off the court and was critical in the success we had towards the end of the season. She too will only continue to get better and be an important piece on our team."