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Women's tennis: Mean Green show fight in loss to Kansas

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UNT sports information

Trailing 5-1 in the first set against No. 17 Kansas, North Texas sophomore Minying Liang didn't give in.

The Mean Green's No. 5 singles player came all the way back to tie the set at 6 and send it to a tiebreaker. Liang eventually lost her match 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, but the way she and her teammates competed Sunday -- a month before the Conference USA tournament -- was more than encouraging to coach Sujay Lama, despite UNT losing the match 6-1.

"So proud of our team," Lama said. "We battled for every single point and that was our goal -- to compete and to be willing to suffer for every single point and to enjoy the moment against a really good team."

From the first serve in doubles until UNT's Maria Kononova ended the match on an ace, the Mean Green battled back and forth with the Jayhawks.

At No. 2 singles, UNT's Tamuna Kutubidze convincingly won her second set 6-2 after a stressful first-set loss. She kept attacking and finished the set on back-to-back corner winners. She lost 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

At No. 1 singles, Kononova showed why her name will be in the Mean Green record books. The No. 82 player rallied to beat Kansas' No. 74 Anastasia Rychagova, whose only other loss this season came against the No. 36 player.

Kononova's 14th win this season ties a program record for singles victories in dual matches. Kononova has won five matches in a row and 14 of her last 16. She has defeated five ranked opponents this season.

Kansas (9-4) was the third top-25 team North Texas has faced this season.

With three matches remaining before it hosts the conference tournament in late April, North Texas has a two-week break before its next match.

"This is a perfect time for us to train and get better in practice, with the goal to peak in the conference tournament," Lama said. "What we showed today against Kansas is if we peak in the conference tournament we can make a deep run and go for it."

North Texas (6-11) travels to Memphis on April. 1.