April 20, 2018
NORFOLK, VIRGINA — The North Texas tennis team's comeback in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament fell short as they lost 4-2 to the No. 3 seed and host school Old Dominion Monarchs Friday afternoon.
Tied 2-2 late in the match, ODU rallied late in the third sets at No. 4 and No. 5 to clinch the win and end UNT's season.
After a dominating performance to start the match and winning the doubles point, the Mean Green were hit in the mouth as their captain and leader Maria Kononova didn't win a game in the first set against ODU's No. 1. To go along with Kononova, to start singles, North Texas had considerable deficits on five of the six courts.
But just when UNT's hope looked like it was gone, slowly the Mean Green mounted comebacks. North Texas won the second-set on three courts, including Tamuna Kutubidze who had lost the first set 6-3. The exhausted Kutubidze battled through illness to win in the third set and tie the match score at two.
Freshman Nidhi Surapaneni and sophomores Alexandra Heczey and Haruka Sasaki took their opponents to a third-set and put the heat on the Monarchs.
As the matches closed out, ODU made one last push, picking up momentum by winning some late points and abruptly finishing the match with wins at No. 4 and No. 5.
Friday's performance was a drastic improvement from when the Monarchs beat UNT 4-0 on Feb. 25 in Norfolk, Virginia.
Surapaneni lost 6-1, 6-1 on Feb. 25 against the same opponent but on Friday went to a third-set before losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Surapaneni was tied with her opponent 4-4 in the third-set before ODU went on its late run.
Heczey, Sasaki and Minying Liang all made drastic improvements against the same opponents and had Old Dominion against the ropes before the late push.
North Texas, which has no seniors, returns all eight women on its current roster.
1. Minying Liang/Maria Kononova (UNT) def. Victoria Olivarez/Nataliia Vlasova (ODU) 6-1
2. Holly Hutchinson/Natalya Malenko (ODU) def. Nidhi Surapaneni/Alexandra Heczey (UNT) 6-1
3. Tamuna Kutubidze/Haruka Sasaki (UNT) def. Adriana Rajkovic/Yulia Starodubtseva (ODU) 6-1
1. Holly Hutchinson (ODU) def. #58 Maria Kononova (NT) 6-0, 6-2
2. Tamuna Kutubidze (NT) def. Nataliia Vlasova (ODU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
3. Yulia Starodubtseva (ODU) def. Minying Liang (NT) 6-1, 6-2
4. Victoria Olivarez (ODU) def. Alexandra Heczey (NT) 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4
5. Adriana Rajkovic (ODU) def. Nidhi Surapaneni (NT) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
6. Louie McLelland (ODU) vs. Haruka Sasaki (NT) 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 2-1, unfinished