HUNTSVILLE – Returning for his third season at the helm, head coach Rob Hubbard released the Sam Houston State tennis team’s 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, Sept. 13.

“This season certainly promises to be an interesting one as over half of the team is new to the program,” Hubbard said. “We have a lot of talent on paper, but we are a very young squad. With the return of our captain, Ema Barkovic, we should have enough experience to assist the newcomers in their development.”

The Kats open up the fall schedule in Houston at the Rice Invitational on Sept. 21-23. October holds two meets for SHSU, beginning with the H.E.B. Invitational in Waco, Texas, on Oct. 5-7. Two weeks later the Kats will travel to College Station, Texas, for the ITA Regionals on Oct. 18-21.

SHSU closes out the fall season and will make its home debut on Nov. 3-4 with the Bearkat Invitational at the Kelly and Ina May McAdams Tennis Complex.

“Hosting our own tournament is always a blast and this year will be no different,” Hubbard noted. “We have UTRGV and UTSA returning to play again, as well as conference foe UIW joining us this year. They are very formidable opponents who will provide our team with a great opportunity to close out the fall season on a strong note at home.”

Dual action begins Jan. 14 at UTRGV followed by a home match against Prairie View A&M on Jan. 19. The Kats will hit the road to play at Houston and Rice later in the month before returning home on Feb. 1 to face the UTSA Roadrunners.

After the home contest, the Kats’ set out a four-match road swing that includes stops at Texas A&M, SMU, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana.

“Our non-conference season is a very healthy one with nationally ranked programs Texas A&M, Rice, SMU, and Houston on the slate,” Hubbard said. “With these teams on the schedule, combined with other top teams from Texas, we should be adequately prepared for our conference season.”

Southland Conference play begins on Mar. 1 with a home match against Nicholls. The Kats will also play host to New Orleans and Stephen F. Austin while making trips to Abilene Christian, UIW, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Lamar in the month of March.

“We have a tough act to follow after last season’s success,” Hubbard added. “If we progress the way I think we can, I believe the team could be right back in the thick of things again. We have some strong talent on the squad, we just need to give them some experience and see where it takes us.”

SHSU’s final non-conference match is set for Mar. 18 in a home contest against UTEP.

The Kats continue conference action at home against Northwestern State and Central Arkansas on Apr. 5 and 7 before traveling to Southeastern Louisiana and McNeese. This season’s SLC Tournament is scheduled for Apr. 26-28 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Both the non-conference segment and conference play should provide us with more than enough competition to make a run at qualifying for the conference tournament, as well as the NCAA Championships in May,” Hubbard said. “I'm excited for what the season holds for us and am anxious to get started.”

The Kats begin their season on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Rice Invitational in Houston. For all the latest information on the Sam Houston State tennis team, visit gobearkats.com or follow @BearkatsWTEN on Twitter.