Sam Houston women's tennis begins its 2013 spring dual match season Thursday as the Bearkats travel to Waco to face the nation's No. 15-ranked Baylor Bears.

First serve is at 3:30 p.m. at the Hurd Tennis Center.

The Bearkat women's tennis team returns all of its players from last year's squad that reached the Southland Conference post-season tournament semifinals and compiled a 12-9 record.

The 2013 squad features seniors Sheridan Currie, Nadia Dubyanskaya and Tanya Postnikova and juniors Olivia Battye, Imke Jagau, Natalie Petaia and Kayla Stevenson.

Further strengthening the squad will be the addition of freshman Maddie Mortimore.

Sam Houston is starting the year with road matches against a "who's who" of Texas college tennis. The Kats face SMU in Dallas Saturday and TCU in Fort Worth on Sunday.

"You get better by playing the best," Sam Houston head coach Jim Giachino said. "This is an exciting opportunity for the team to test themselves against three quality programs."

Sam Houston State will open its 2013 home tennis schedule against Abilene Christian at the McAdams Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 2.

Thursday's opponent, Baylor, returns four players from the Bears' 25-8 squad that reached the NCAA round of 16 for an eighth straight season in 2012. Ema Burgic, Baylor's top returning player, is ranked No. 16 nationally in singles.