HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats started off Southland Conference play on a terrific note on Thursday, knocking off Stephen F. Austin by a 5-2 margin at the McAdams Tennis Center.
The win is the first victory for the Bearkats (4-6, 1-0 SLC) over the Ladyjacks (4-5, 0-1 SLC) since the 2010 season and the first league-opening win since 2013.
“I am very proud of the effort put forth by every member of the team today,” head coach Rob Hubbard said after the win. “The women came prepared for a very tough match and responded with a great level of tennis.”
The Bearkats were able to secure the doubles point and early momentum, but things were tick-for-tat in singles play with each match going to either three sets or to a tiebreak.
“The doubles point was critical and gave us the momentum we were looking for going in to singles play,” Hubbard said.
Mila Milanovic and Carrie Casey started off the momentum by taking the opening match of doubles play, 6-2, over the top Ladyjack duo of Lauren Hidalgo-Smith and Darinka Tiboldi. SFA then took the match on the No. 3 court to tie it up, but Fabienne Gettwart and Khee Yen Wee were able to outlast SFA’s No. 2 duo of Denise Maxl and Gabi Guilarte, 7-6, to secure the point.
“Carrie (Casey) and Khee (Yen Wee) had excellent performances as doubles winners today, and it was a great way for Carrie to celebrate her birthday,” Hubbard said.
Ema Barkovic made it a 2-0 lead for the Bearkats when she took care of Vanesa Pardo on the No. 2 line (6-3, 7-6 (7-2) before SFA was able to get on the board with a win on the No. 1 court as Maxl outlasted Gettwart in three sets.
Wee got the Kats to the brink of a win with a three-set comeback win (2-6, 6-2, 6-3) victory over Hidalgo-Smith on the No. 3 court. Then, after another SFA point from No. 5 singles, Casey deliverd the clinching point when she took down Tiboldi (4-6, 6-4, 6-4) on the No. 4 court.
Diane Friedrichs tacked on another one for the Kats as she took care of business at No. 6 singles, knocking off Liza Aginskaya in three sets (6-3, 4-6, 6-3).
The Bearkats will look to move to 2-0 in league play on Saturday when they host Northwestern State. First serve is set for 11 a.m.