BEAUMONT -- For only the fifth time in the Bearkats’ 31 years at the NCAA Division I level, the Sam Houston women’s tennis team has advanced to the semi-finals of the Southland Conference Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Kats opened play in the event with a 4-2 victory over number five seed Central Arkansas Friday afternoon at the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center. The win ups the squad’s season record to 14-5 (a school record season victory total). Sam Houston will take on No. 1 seed and regular season co-champion McNeese at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Singles wins by sophomore Lusine Chobanyan, seniors Mila Milanovic at number six and Khee Yen Wee at number three and freshman Sahaja Yamalapalli at number two powered the Bearkats to the victory after the UCA Bears earned the doubles point after taking the number one and two doubles sets.

Chobanyan picked up the Kats’ first point, defeating Amiru Shimoguchi 6-1 6-1. Milanovic followed quickly with a 6-4 6-0 result versus Marli Van Heerden to give SHSU a 2-1 lead.

The Bears evened the match at 2-all after Pompawee Pramethong downed Gettwart 7-6 (5) 6-2 in the number one match. Wee’s 6-3 6-1 win over Hee-Jin Oh put the Kats one point away from victory. Yamalapalli closed out the victory by defeating Chunan Xiang 6-4 6-3.

“These girls continue to amaze me. They are such fighters,” Sam Houston head coach Rob Hubbard said. “They didn’t panic after dropping the doubles point. They came out and took charge and picked up four straight set wins over a talented UCA team. Now we have to reload and get ready for McNeese.”

All four of the tournament’s top seeds won Friday. McNeese blanked No. 8 seed 4-0. No. 2 Northwestern State topped No. 6 Abilene Christian 4-3. No. 2 A&M-Corpus Christi defeated No. 7 New Orleans 4-1. The Islanders and the Demons will meet in the second semi-finals Saturday afternoon.

During the regular season match-ups featuring Saturday's semifinalists, McNeese defeated Sam Houston 5-2 in Lake Charles on April 8 and Corpus Christi won 4-3 over Northwestern State last Saturday in Natchitoches.

Sam Houston previous Southland semifinal appearances came in 2005 in San Antonio, 2006 in Arlington, 2012 in Nacogdoches and 2013 in Beaumont. The Kats fell to UT-Arlington, Southeastern Louisiana, UT-Arlington again and A&M-Corpus Christi, respectively, in those seasons.

April 27, 2018 – Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center

1. Pompawee Pramethong / Marli Van Heerden (UCA) def. Carrie Casey /Mila Milanovic (SHSU) 6-4
2. Amiro Shimoguchi / Chunan Xiang (UCA) def. Fabienne Gettwart /Khee Yen Wee 6-1
3. Qi Li Ma / Rada Manataweewat (UCA) vs. Roos Gerritsen / Sahaja Yamalapalli 5-4 unfinished 

1. Pompawee Pramethong (UCA) def. Fabienne Gettwart (SHSU) 7-6 (5) 6-2
2. Sahaja Yamalapalli (SHSU) def. Chunan Xiang (UCA) 6-4 6-3
3. Khee Yen Wee (SHSU) def. Hee-Jin Oh (UCA) 6-3 6-1
4. Carrie Casey vs. Qi Li Ma (UCA) unfinished 6-2 5-3
5. Lusine Chobanyan (SHSU) def. Amiru Shimoguchi (UCA) 6-1 6-1
6. Mila Milanovic (SHSU) def. Marli Van Heerden (UCA) 6-4 6-0