Kononova Selected For NCAA Championships
First In Program History To Earn NCAA Singles Tournament Selection
DENTON — North Texas junior tennis player Maria Kononova has been selected for the NCAA Singles Championships. She is the first Mean Green women's tennis player in program history to be selected
The 64-player single elimination tournament, which is being played at Wake Forest, begins Wednesday with the draws being picked on Tuesday.
“To be the first in program history to qualify for the national championship in an incredible accomplishment for Maria,” said UNT head coach Sujay Lama. “She has worked hard and has gotten better each day. Her accomplishments continue to inspire her teammates and help lift the profile of our tennis program.”
Over the last two years alone, she has posted a 50-20 record in all matches. She has set numerous program records and has victories over top 15 nationally ranked opponents, including on Feb. 23 when she beat the No. 2 nationally ranked player — the highest ranked opponent a North Texas tennis player has ever beaten.
In total, over just the past two seasons, Kononova has beaten four opponents who have been ranked in the top 25, including last year against Kansas' Anastasia Rychagova who was ranked No. 1 for a majority of this season.
Kononova came close to the NCAA Championships last year but fell short of earning a birth.
"I'm very excited to represent UNT and can't wait to compete there," Kononova said. "It feels good to make history."
Kononova has been invited to some of the most prominent and competitive college tournaments but the NCAA Championships was missing from her resume.
This past fall, Kononova earned an invitation to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Grass Court Hall of Fame Invite and claimed the singles title. In the Hall of Fame Invite, Kononova beat North Carolina’s Alle Sanford who finished the spring ranked No. 26 in the nation. In the championship round, Kononova beat top 50 ranked Eden Richardson of LSU.
In October, Kononova became the first Mean Green tennis player to reach the ITA All-American Second Round after she beat Arizona State’s Kelley Anderson in straight sets. Anderson was ranked No. 60 at the time and had recently beaten top 20 opponents.
“Maria has proven that she is one of the best players in the country,” Lama said. “We believe she has the talent and ability to make a serious run in the tournament.”
Kononova needs at least two wins in the tournament in order to earn NCAA All-American honors, another accomplishment that would be a first in program history.