Kononova Takes Down North Carolina's Sanford
Kononova Improves To 2-0 At ITA Hall of Fame Invite
NEWPORT, RI - Maria Kononova kept her hot start to her junior year going with another win at the International Tennis Association Hall of Fame Grass Court Invitational Saturday afternoon in Newport, Rhode Island.
The North Texas tennis team captain who is ranked No. 41 in the country defeated North Carolina's Alle Sanford, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 10-7. Sanford, a freshman, is currently the No. 6 ranked ITA freshman/newcomer. She was also recently ranked 16th in the world juniors and a career-best 516th in the world by the WTA. The win on Saturday advances Kononova to the final round of her flight, which she will play on Sunday.
"I felt even better today than I did yesterday on the court and I was confident during my third set tiebreaker," Kononova, who is the No. 1 seed in her flight, said. "I wanted to win more than her."
Friday was Kononova's first time ever playing on a grass surface. Despite the unfamiliar grass, she won her opening day singles match, defeating Princeton's Gabriella Pollner in comeback fashion, 4-6, 7-5, 10-8.
"Maria had to come from behind again to beat a quality opponent," said associate North Texas head coach Jeff Hammond who is at the event with Kononova. "She was resilient and unwavering. She understands that anything is possible when you couple determination with the right approach and attitude."
The ITA Hall of Fame Grass Court Invitational is Kononova's first event of the year. She had a breakout sophomore campaign last year that has given her tremendous confidence headed into this year.
Kononova did have recent experience against Sanford. The two played against one another in doubles on Friday and the experience helped as Kononova said she knew what to expect.
On Saturday, Kononova and her doubles partner, Katie Kubicz of Florida, got their first win of the event with a 8-4 victory over Princeton's doubles team.
Kononova and her regular doubles partner, North Texas' Tamuna Kutubidze went 17-1 last season and begin their junior seasons ranked a program-best No. 22 in the country. Kononova and Kutubidze will have their season debut next weekend in the Milwaukee Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Kononova will finish the ITA Hall of Fame Grass Court Invitational on Sunday against Louisiana State University's Eden Richardson and attempt to win her flight. .
"This is a good beginning," Kononova said. "But I have one more match tomorrow and that's what matters to me."