Kononova, Kutubidze Earn Invite To ITA Fall Nationals
Mean Green Juniors To Play At Historic Indian Wells
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — North Texas women’s tennis players Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze earned an at-large bid to compete in the inaugural 2017 Oracle Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Fall Championships that will take place Nov. 1-5 from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
The No. 41 nationally ranked singles player, Kononova, was just one of 22 to earn an at-large bid. She will join the 41 automatic qualifiers at the championship.
The Mean Green’s No. 22 nationally ranked doubles team was one of 13 teams to earn an at-large/wild card spot in the national tournament.
“This is an amazing opportunity and accomplishment for Maria and Tamuna,” said head coach Sujay Lama. “It’s also great for our program and show how far we have come. To have two players at national is truly special.”
Kononova and Kutubidze are shortly removed from reaching the semifinals of the ITA Texas Regional in both singles and doubles. Kononova became the first Mean Green singles tennis player to reach the regional semifinal. She had to beat separately two TCU players and a Texas player on her way to the semifinal round.
“To get into this tournament was my goal since the beginning of the semester,” Kononova said. “I want to compete against the best players and play my best game and let people know about UNT and our program by showing strong results.”
After a successful sophomore campaign, Kononova and Kutubidze have established themselves in collegiate tennis.
The two posted a 17-1 doubles record last spring and were named all-conference. Their No. 22 national ranking is a program-best.
“These two ladies continue to develop and look for new challenges,” Lama said. “They are motivated by the challenges and are not afraid to take the next step.”
Indian Wells Tennis Garden is home to ATP and WTA master events that most recently Roger Federer won in March at the BNP Paribas Open.
Fellow tennis greats such as Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki have all competed at Indian Wells in recent years.
“It’s really fun to play in a place where they hold ATP and WTA tournament. It gives me more motivation to work harder and follow my dream to be back at these courts as a professional player.”