Monday, Jan. 14 • Edinburg • 11:00 a.m. • Orville L. Cox Tennis Center
Sam Houston State (0-0) at UT Rio Grande Valley (0-0)


EDINBURG - The Bearkat women’s tennis team opens its 2019 spring dual-match schedule Monday versus UT Rio Grande Valley, looking to build on the squad’s success from 2018 when Sam Houston posted a season record 14 victories and finished third in the Southland Conference race.


The 11-player roster for 2019 features six newcomers (four freshman and two transfers). While there are no seniors on the team, juniors Ema Barkovic and Lusince Chobanyan, along with sophomores Sahaja Yamalapalli, Roos Gerritsen and Asni Hill all return with impressive resumes.


Ready to fill the loss of four seniors are freshmen Malou Goes from the Netherlands, Petra Kaszas from Hungary, Ryli Ruffin from Mason, Texas and Isidora Zivkovic from Serbia and transfers Karla De La Luz Montalvo and Stevie Ybara from Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M-Texarkana, respectively.


“This is going to be a tough opener for us,” Sam Houston head coach Rob Hubbard said. “We need to start off on the right foot. UTRGV continues to get stronger each year. We’ve had a great week of practice leading up to this match and everyone is eager to get going.”


The Bearkats played in tournaments at Rice, Baylor and Texas A&M during in the fall, posting individual wins over players from Baylor, Houston, Kansas, North Texas, Oklahoma, Rice, South Florida, Texas State and UTSA during the first three events. In the team’s final fall tournament hosted by Sam Houston, the squad won 20 of its 30 singles matches against opponents from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UTRGV and UIW.


“Our success in the fall gives us a bunch of momentum heading into dual match play” head tennis coach Rob Hubbard said. “These results provide a ton of encouragement and confidence going into January.”


Monday’s duel in Edinburg starts a nine-match non-conference slate for the Kats that includes four teams that were nationally ranked in 2018 – Texas A&M, Rice, Houston and North Texas.


“This is the kind of competition we need to help us prepare for what could be one of the tightest Southland Conference races ever,” Hubbard said. “There is plenty of parity in the league with returning quality talent combined with top recruits. Everyone including us seems to have gotten stronger with outstanding newcomers. I like our talent level.”


Sam Houston’s 8-3 Southland Conference mark last spring stands as the program’s best since 2007 and ranks as the second-highest league victory total in history.



Sam Houston and UTRGV have met 23 times in the 36-year history of Bearkat women’s tennis. SHSU holds a 15-8 advantage in the series. The Kats edged the Vaqueros 4-3 in Huntsville last season.



The tennis team’s home schedule begins on Saturday, January 19 with a doubleheader versus Prairie View A&M starting at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.