ARLINGTON — Trailing 5-2 and facing match point in the second set twice, Laura Arciniegas came all the way back to win in the third set and clinch a 4-2 victory for the North Texas tennis team over Texas-Arlington on Saturday afternoon.
The Mean Green end the regular season on a three-match winning streak and are playing what coach Sujay Lama called their best tennis this season.
"Awesome team win," Lama said. "Everyone was battling and refusing to lose. UTA is a very good team, but we didn't quit. I was so happy Laura was able to clinch it.
"Winning is a habit. This is perfect."
Arciniegas, playing at No. 6 singles, quickly lost her first set 6-3 and before she knew it trailed 5-2 in the second while facing match point. Then, a few points went her way and momentum began to build. She won the second set 7-5 and blasted past her opponent in the third to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
The win for the sophomore from Colombia was her second straight and came after not being in the singles lineup for over a month. She improved her singles record to 6-5 on the year and is 5-2 at No. 6.
"I feel good and confident because the team is playing good," Arciniegas said. "I was feeding off Minying [Liang] next to me playing well, and I just didn't want to give up."
Arciniegas' second-set comeback came at a time in the match when the Mavericks (10-9) were starting to gain ground on an early Mean Green lead.
North Texas (9-11) captured the doubles point to start the match with wins at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. Sophomores Tamuna Kutubidze and Maria Kononova improved to 15-0 with their 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles. They are one win shy of tying the program record for doubles wins in a dual match season and will easily set the UNT record for winning percentage.
In singles, Kononova gave North Texas a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-3 win at the No. 1 spot. She finished the season 16-4. Her 16 wins are program record, and her .800 winning percentage stands as a UNT record.
Losses at Nos. 3 and 4 for the Mean Green put UTA back in contention with the score tied at 2.
"You rarely are going to blow by teams in college tennis," Lama said. "Especially against a team like UTA. You have to know how to fight back."
While Arciniegas began to make her run, at No. 2 Kutubidze put away her opponent in the third set to give North Texas a 3-2 lead.
"We are in a great position headed into the conference tournament," Arciniegas said. "Winning three in a row headed into the tournament feels great. We just need to keep doing what we're doing."
North Texas hosts the Conference USA tournament starting Thursday.