Mean Green Tennis Adds Two Accomplished Freshmen

Sept. 6, 2016

DENTON -- North Texas head coach Sujay Lama announced Friday the addition of freshmen Ivana Babić from Zagreb, Croatia, and Haruka Sasaki of Fujisawa, Japan, to the Mean Green roster.

Babić and Sasaki are two accomplished tennis players that come to Denton with many honors to their respected name. Babić has been ranked in the top-five for all age groups in Croatia while Sasaki was ranked in the top-16 in Japan for the under-18 age group.

"We are delighted to have these two tremendous student-athletes join us," Lama said. "Both of them are highly motivated and disciplined individuals who will impact our program immediately, both on and off the court."

Babić, who plans on studying business at NT, most recently was ranked No. 5 in Croatia for the under-18 age group. She has reached at least the semi-finals of nine national Croatian tournaments since 2009. She chose North Texas, because of her connection with Lama.

"I felt a very good connection with coach Lama in a very short period of time," Babić explained. "For me, the most important thing is the connection with my coach and teammates since I'm spending the most time with them."

In 2009 as a 12-year-old Babić won the indoor national championship. Since then she's reached the semifinals of the ETA-Salona Open and quarterfinals of the ETA-Kvarner Open.

"Ivana has a big game and plays offensive tennis," Lama said. "She is a first strike player with a ferocious mindset."

Sasaki enters college with one of the highest Universal Tennis Ratings on the Mean Green team.

"Coach Lama and coach Jeff Hammond are motivating people and I think their program makes me a better tennis player," Sasaki said. "I want to be a great tennis player with this team. I'm looking forward to playing with their family."

This past year, Sasaki reached the round of 16 at the Under-18 All Japan Inter-High Tennis Singles Championship. Two years ago she finished in sixth at the Under-16 All-Japan Toyota Junior Tennis Tournament.

"Haruka has very good foot speed," Lama said. "She is great at turning defense into offense and likes to methodically wear down her opponents."

The Mean Green's fall schedule begins September 16th in Midland, Texas, at the Midland Invite.



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