March 14, 2018
DENTON - The North Texas tennis team returns to the Waranch Tennis Complex for a Thursday morning match against the Georgia State Panthers, looking to build momentum headed into the final stretch of the season.
The Mean Green (4-9) and Georgia State (7-9) will face each other at 9:00 a.m. The match will be the first of two home matches this week for UNT.
"I like how we've played despite the results," said captain Maria Kononova. "The only thing that hasn't happened yet is when we all play great together at the same time. We don't feel down or have disbelief in ourselves."
North Texas enters Thursday's match on a four-match skid where the Mean Green faced highly ranked opponents.
In their last match, the Mean Green started off on fire against the No. 23 ranked Wichita State Shockers but cooled down towards the end and eventually lost 4-2. A bright spot that came out of that match was the success of the Mean Green's double team performance.
North Texas has changed up its doubles lineup quite a bit over the past few matches, including breaking up Kononova and Tamuna Kuutbidze who finished last season 17-1 in doubles.
For most of this season, Kononova has been paired with her classmate, Minying Liang.
"I love playing with Minying because she always has positive energy and wants to win every point," Kononova said. "We have good chemistry, which makes it great for us. I have a good time playing with her."
Thursday's match will be the Panthers' third match in five days as they've hung out in the Metroplex the last week. Georgia State lost to SMU on March 11 and UT-Arlington on March 13.
Thursday's match is a rematch of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference championship game, which North Texas won 4-2 to claim its second consecutive conference title.
North Texas will look to use Thursday's match to gain some momentum as they enter the home stretch of the schedule. Including Thursday's match, the Mean Green have just four home matches remaining and eight total on the year.
"We have been working hard and I like that we have no doubts in each other and if we lose, we lose as a team and don't blame individuals," Kononova said. "We have a great approach and we try to learn from every situation. We have a very strong mindset and if keep working hard it will pay off."