Kononova Captures ITA Hall of Fame Singles Title
Kononova Comes From Behind Again
NEWPORT, RI — The Mean Green tennis team’s junior Maria Kononova is returning to North Texas from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame Grass Court Invitational with a new trophy.
Kononova, the No. 41 ranked player in the country, defeated Louisiana State University’s Eden Richardson, 4-6, 6-2, 12-10, Sunday afternoon in Newport, Rhode Island, to capture the Althea Gibson flight singles championship.
“The Hall of Fame is a special place for tennis and one of the best tournaments in college so I’m really happy to represent my team and win the tournament.” Kononova said. “Today’s match was intense, but when I was down one set I knew that I’d been in this situation already this weekend and I didn’t give up and kept playing my game.”
Kononova went 3-0 this weekend at the ITA Hall of Fame event, which is an invite only competition and features the best collegiate tennis players in the country. It was Kononova’s first time playing on grass surface.
“My opponent had a little bit of an advantage with experience playing on grass since she’s from England, but I kept playing my game,” Kononova said.
Sunday was also Kononova’s third consecutive come from behind win. She defeated North Carolina’s Alle Sanford on Saturday, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 10-7 and Princeton’s Gabriella Pollner on Friday, 4-6, 7-5, 10-8. Sanford is the No. 6 ranked freshman/newcomer in the country and both her and Richardson are top-130 ranked ITF World Juniors.
This ITA Hall of Fame event was the first competition of the year for Kononova who earned her program record setting No. 41 ranking on Sept. 12. The next rankings don’t come out until January but after capturing the fight title this weekend she has only helped her cause to continue to move up.
Kononova and North Texas teammate Tamuna Kutubidze will travel next weekend to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to compete in the Milwaukee Classic. They will also travel to California in October and compete in the ITA All-American Tennis Championships where Kononova will again face some of the best collegiate tennis players in the country and have an opportunity to improve on her rankings.
Kononova had a breakout sophomore season that began with a fall where she went 13-4 and had victories over TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Penn State, SMU and Rice. She used that momentum to have a one-of-kind spring season where she set the program-record for wins and became the highest ranked singles player in program history.
Kononova has won 21 of her previous 25 singles matches, dating back to last season, and owns a 5-1 record against ranked opponents during that time, including a straight-set win over the No. 16 ranked singles player.
“It’s a good start to my season, but I already have another tournament coming up and I need to improve on by next week.”