Mean Green Head To ITA Texas Regional, Kononova, Kutubidze Earn No. 1 Seed
North Texas Prepares For Most Important Fall Tournament
FORT WORTH — The North Texas tennis team's Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze earned the No. 1 seed in the doubles draw at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Texas Regional held at TCU.
The five-day tournament which begins Friday, features the 15 best programs from the state of Texas. A total of 101 singles and 44 doubles entries are looking to qualify for the 2017 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships that will run from Nov. 1-5 in Indian Wells, Calif.
Kononova and Kutubidze are ranked No. 22 nationally and have received a bye in the first-round of the Texas Regional.
In addition to Kononova and Kutubidze earning a top-seed in the doubles bracket, Kononova has earned a No. 3 seeding in the singles draw and will also have to wait until Saturday to play as she has a bye.
This will be the first time this year North Texas will travel as a team to an event and for a majority of them it will be their first competition since Sept 24 at the Rice Invitational.
After the three-day Rice Invitational, Lama was very pleased with how the team competed and where the team was at headed into the most important tournament of the fall.
“We are way ahead of last year at this point,” said Mean Green head coach Sujay Lama. “Our depth is so far ahead. No player’s position in the lineup is safe and that has created competition, which is making us better. This tournament is a huge opportunity for us to make a dent.”.
The team won a combined 18 matches while in Houston.
“We need to a get off to another great start,” Lama said about the multiple-day Texas Regional. “We have to be on the attack and fear none.”
One of the top performers in practice and during the fall tournaments has been junior Minying Liang who spent most of last spring in the No. 5 and No. 4 position in the lineup.
Lama has called Liang’s start to this year as a breakout year sees a strong Texas Regional as a possible further turning point in her career.
Liang and her doubles partner at the Rice Invitational, Nidhi Surapaneni, claimed a flight doubles championship with 7-5 win over SMU.
Liang was also instrumental in the Mean Green’s 2017 Conference USA Semifinal Tournament run as she clinched a victory over Middle Tennessee.
She credits Lama and her teammates for motivating and pushing her to be better.
“I appreciate the expectations coach has for me,” Liang said. “ I have gotten a lot better by all the extra hard work I have done. Playing with great players also makes me more excited because it will make me better. They are pushing me to reach a higher level.”
More information, including results for each ITA Regional Championships Presented by Oracle, can be accessed at www.itatennis.com.
TCU’s Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center is located at 3609 Bellaire Dr N, Fort Worth, TX 76129.