April 19, 2018
NORFOLK, VIRGINA — For the 11th straight year, the North Texas tennis team won its opening round match of a conference tournament. Thursday, they beat the 13-seed UAB Blazers 4-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament where they'll face host school and No.3-seed Old Dominion at Friday at 1:00 p.m. CT.
Freshman Nidhi Surapaneni, who had lost eight consecutive singles matches heading into the tournament, clinched the first round win for the Mean Green with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win at No. 5.
The aggressive and vocal Surapaneni said she wanted to win for her team.
"I was confident, because I was playing for my team," Surapaneni said. "I had lost a few matches but playing for my team gave me confidence. With each point I felt more and more confident."
North Texas began the match with an important doubles point victory. It is its third straight match winning the doubles point. They then carried the momentum over to singles where sophomore Alexandra Heczey made quick work of her Blazer opponent with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4 to give UNT a 2-0 lead.
North Texas took a 3-0 lead after junior captain Maria Kononova powered her way to a win soon after Heczey with a 6-4, 7-5 win. Kononova, the No. 58 nationally ranked player, had numerous aces and also hit numerous power shots that got the ball stuck in the fence behind her opponent.
However, UAB made a stern comeback, winning at No. 6 and No. 2 to put the heat on UNT.
With the Mean Green only leading 3-2, junior Minying Liang made a huge comeback in the second-set to force a third-set and put Surapaneni in a position to clinch the win.
"When I saw Minying won the second-set I knew it was my time," Surapaneni said. "I wanted to win for my team."
In a second-set tiebreak, Surapaneni fell behind early but once she got her fourth point she took off.
With each point that got her closer to the clinching seventh point, Surpaneni's yell got louder and her face became more confident. When she clinched the win for UNT, her teammates ran out and hugged their freshman.
"Every point, every yell released pressure for me," Surapaneni said. "I'm so happy I got the win for the team."
North Texas faces the No. 3-seed Old Dominion and 1:00 p.m. CT.
1. #58 Maria Kononova (UNT) def. SHCHIPAKINA, Alex (UAB) 6-4, 7-5
2. HERRMANN, Marlene (UAB) def. Tamuna Kutubidze (UNT) 6-4, 6-2
3. Minying Liang (UNT) vs. DODDS, Sophie (UAB) 6-7 (1-7), 7-5, unfinished
4. Alexandra Heczey (UNT) def. BERTRANDS, Megan (UAB) 6-2, 6-2
5. Nidhi Surapaneni (UNT) def. SISIRAK, Hana (UAB) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
6. HRABALOVA, Dominka (UAB) def. Haruka Sasaki (NT) 6-3, 6-1
1. Maria Kononova/Minying Liang (NT) def. SHCHIPAKINA, Alex/HERRMANN, Marlene (UAB) 7-5
2. Nidhi Surapaneni/Alexandra Heczey (NT) vs. GRZYWOCZ, Sonia/SISIRAK, Hana (UAB) 5-4, unfinished
3. Tamuna Kutubidze/Haruka Sasaki (NT) def. DODDS, Sophie/HECKING, Jana (UAB) 6-1