On the road against No. 22 Texas Christian University, head coach Sujay Lama’s team never blinked.
Despite what the 4-2 loss may indicate, the Mean Green gave the Horned Frogs a run for their money in Wednesday’s match.
Tied in the doubles point, freshman Ivana Babic had a stellar performance with sophomore Minying Liang. The duo stormed back after being down 1-5, but fell just short of completing the comeback.
“Once they slowed things down they were so good at adapting,” Lama said. “We had to make adjustments and what was so great was that our kids made that adjustment. I think there’s such potential for that partnership if we keep [Liang] healthy.”
Already down a point, North Texas then suffered an even more heartbreaking loss. Liang was unable to finish her singles match due to a nagging shoulder injury, which gave TCU another quick point.
Still, the team fought on and kept the Horned Frogs on their heels.
Maria Kononova bounced back nicely from the two losses she suffered against ranked opponents last weekend. Kononova used her extensive arsenal of strikes, most notably a powerful forehand serve followed by a devastating forehand slice, to take down No. 60 Seda Arantekin in straight sets.
On court four, freshman Alexandra Heczey continued to show an incredible amount of improvement with both her accuracy and power. However, she failed to close out Marie Norris, falling 6-4, 0-6, 6-7 (1-7).
“Unbelievable,” Lama said. “[Norris] was top 25 in the U.S. and here is Heczey, down 5-2, doesn’t give up, comes back, and gives us a chance. Wow.”
Although they came up short, there are positives North Texas can build on moving forward. The Mean Green are young, battling injuries across the board and are still learning how to face adversity. Nonetheless, they were able to keep the pressure on a nationally ranked team on the road.
“There are no real moral victories,” Lama said. “I just told them we are on this upward trajectory. We are continuing to rise up. We are continuing to improve. They work hard, they have tough matches, they comeback, and they have growth. They’re keeping things in perspective, which is a beautiful thing.”
Mean Green Quick Hits:
- Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze paired up to defend their newly earned No. 77 ranked. Although their match did not finish, they led TCU 5-4 before the match was called to an end. The tandem is 9-0 on the season.
- Kononova is now 3-2 on the season in singles matches against ranked opponents.
- Both Alexis Thoma and Liang had their four-game win streak snapped.
- North Texas is now 5-8 on the season and 2-6 against Power Five teams.