DENTON, Texas (4/29/10) - The North Texas tennis team claimed its first Sun Belt Conference Championship last weekend with a 4-3 victory against No. 49 Florida International.
The Mean Green came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the top-seeded Golden Panthers. Irina Paraschiv tied the match at three a piece, and left the finishing touches for the lone senior on the 2010 Mean Green squad, Catalina Cruz.
After a 6-1 victory in the first set by Cruz, the Golden Panther's Vallasciani fought her way to a 5-7 victory to force a deciding set for the championship. Cruz started out strong, taking a 4-2 lead before allowing Vallasciani to claw her way back to a 6-5 lead. From there, the two would end up at 6-6 and have to play a deciding tiebreaker. Vallsciani jumped out to a commanding 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker, before allowing Cruz to come from behind and take the match 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).
Head coach Sujay Lama, who led the University of Illinois to five NCAA Tournament appearances, took over the reigns of the North Texas tennis program on June 14, 2006, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact.
In the spring of 2009, Lama coached North Texas to its second-best record all-time at 17-6 with a semifinals appearance in the Sun Belt Tournament. Along the way, the Mean Green picked up victories against UTEP, New Mexico State, UCF, Rice, and Troy.
In 2010, the Mean Green rose to No. 60 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings after defeating Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 49 Florida International.This is the highest ranking the North Texas tennis program has ever received, after being ranked for the first time on March 30 at No. 73.
The NCAA Tournament will begin May 14-15 on campus sites to be determined. The Mean Green will await the selection show on May 4th on ESPN News for its destination and opponent.