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  1. Barbora Vykydalova wasn’t quite sure of what to make of Sujay Lama and his unique approach to the mental side of tennis when she first arrived at North Texas four years ago. Lama preaches about the importance of focusing and being mentally tough, just like most coaches do in any sport. What makes Lama different is that he puts more emphasis on that aspect of the sport with some ideas that Vykydalova — and several other players on the team — thought were a little unusual at first. Lama emphasizes creating a family atmosphere, focusing on the little things instead of winning and losing and — perhaps most unusual of all — transferring energy from one player to another during matches. “When I first came here, I wondered what he was talking about with transference of energy, but when someone on the next court says, ‘Go Barby,’ or, ‘Let’s go green,’ it helps.” Ask UNT’s players, and they will say it’s Lama — part tennis coach, part psychologist — who has transformed them into masters of performing in clutch situations, a trait that has helped them advance to the NCAA tournament for the third time in the last four years. UNT (18-5) will face rival TCU at 9 a.m. today in an opening-round match of the four-team regional at Texas A&M. UNT’s path to that regional and a No. 60 ranking in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll is full of points at which the impact of Lama’s strategy is evident. Vykydalova came back from a set down to beat Tereza Brichacova 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the decisive match in UNT’s upset win over No. 41 Minnesota in January. Less than a month later, Agustina Valenzuela beat Susan McRann 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in the final match in UNT’s 4-3 win over No. 30 Arizona. Kseniya Bardabush also came through in a do-or-die singles match, coming back from 5-2 down in the third set to beat Christiana Raymond at No. 1 singles 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. Bardabush’s win gave the Mean Green a 4-3 victory over Miami (Ohio). UNT is 5-0 in matches that have been decided by a 4-3 score this season. Performing consistently in key situations has been a hallmark of UNT’s program dating to 2010, when the Mean Green came back from a 3-0 deficit and won its first Sun Belt title with a win over Florida International. Catalina Cruz was down 5-1 in the third-set tiebreaker of the decisive match before coming back to win 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7). That victory helped start UNT’s run of success under Lama and establish the Mean Green’s history of coming through in key spots. So, just what is UNT’s secret? Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20130511-unt-tennis-players-buy-into-coachs-unique-approach.ece
  2. The North Texas tennis team endured a few anxious moments Tuesday while watching the NCAA tournament selection show. UNT went into the day hoping to play close to home in the first round, and to receive a good matchup. The Mean Green felt like it ended up in a good spot on both accounts when it found out it would face a familiar rival in TCU at 9 a.m. May 11 at Texas A&M. The Aggies, the No. 3 national seed, will face Southern in the other first-round match at the regional. TCU beat UNT 4-2 in Denton earlier this year. The Mean Green edged the Horned Frogs 4-3 last year in Fort Worth. “They are a very talented team, but at the same time we are playing good tennis,” UNT coach Sujay Lama said. “This is a great opportunity for us. The good thing is our fans can come there. We travel well. Hopefully, we will have 50 to 100 people out there.” UNT earned a spot in the NCAA tournament by winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons. The Mean Green edged South Alabama 4-3 in the semifinals and beat Georgia State 4-2 in the final. UNT fell to Nebraska 4-0 last season and lost to Tulsa by a 4-2 score in 2010. The Mean Green will look to break through in its third tournament appearance while taking on a familiar opponent in the Horned Frogs. “It’s good for us to play a team we have played before,” said Kseniya Bardabush, a sophomore who has played at No. 1 singles for UNT throughout the season. “We know what to expect and know their players.” UNT won the doubles point in the team’s first meeting this year and picked up a win at No. 3 singles from Barbora Vykydalova. TCU pulled away for the win by winning three straight singles matches, including two that were tight throughout. Bardabush fell to Stefanie Tan 7-5, 7-6, while Ilona Serchenko lost to Millie Nichols 7-5, 7-5. “We have had an intense last couple of years against TCU,” Lama said. Read more: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/colleges/north-texas-headlines/20130430-unt-notebook-unt-to-open-ncaa-tourney-with-frogs.ece
  3. UNT put out a time lapse video of the old Sun Belt logo coming off the field and the new Conference USA logo being put down at Apogee Stadium here recently. I was actually standing there when a couple of UNT officials had the outline for the C-USA logo on the field. It’s pretty cool and kind of funny when the Sun Belt logo is coming off the field to the high drama music. UNT isn’t keeping it much of a secret that it was dying to get out of the Sun Belt. It makes sense. There were no other Texas teams in the league. (click below Read More link for video) And in other news … Not that this is a surprise by any stretch, but it is worth noting that Sujay Lama was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/04/tuesday-morning-notes-c-usa-logo-goes-down-video-lama-named-coy.html/ This post has been promoted to an article
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