BEAUMONT – The host Lamar Cardinals put an end to the Sam Houston State Bearkats season on Friday, eliminating the Kats from the Southland Conference Tournament with a 4-0 win at the Beaumont Municipal Tennis Center.
Sam Houston (9-13) was making its first appearance in the SLC Tournament since the 2013 season, but could not secure the doubles point before surrendering three singles points to the second-seeded Cardinals (17-7), including the clincher by Anna Spengler on the No. 2 court.
The Kats entered the event as the No. 7 seed in the eight-team field and already held a regular-season win over Lamar earlier this year in Beaumont. Mila Milanovic and Carrie Casey, who earned all-Southland Conference honorable mention recognition earlier this week, lived up to the billing as the match started in doubles play. The tandem had no problem rolling by the LU duo of Katya Lapayeva and Spenger, the top two players in the Cardinal lineup, by a 6-2 margin.
But that only tied things up in the chase for the doubles point as Lamar had already gotten a win on the No. 3 court from Talisa Merchiers and Stephanie Marchena, 6-2, over Caitlyn Mitchell and Diane Friedrichs.
In singles play the Bearkats got early wins in sets from Gettwart and Milanovic, but Lamar was able to finish off points on the Nos. 2, 3 and 5 courts to bring the head-to-head match to a halt. Merchiers was the first to finish for Lamar with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mitchell at No. 5 to push the score to 2-0 in favor of the Cardinals.
Buchta was right behind her in picking up a win over Casey at No. 3 (7-5, 6-3) before Spengler finished the match with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Wee on the No. 2 line.
Meanwhile, the Kats were getting strong showings from both Gettwart and Milanovic before the Cards' earned the clinching point. Gettwart was battling Lapayeva - the Southland Conference Player of the Year - on the No. 1 court, after handing Lapayeva her only Southland Conference loss of the season earlier this year in Beaumont. Gettwart staked herself to lead after a first-set win and had the match rendered unfinished at a set apiece after dropping a close second set by a 7-6 margin.
On the No. 4 line, Milanovic rallied after dropping the opening set to force a third set that was knotted at 1-1 after she won a Set 2 tiebreak against Sanja Jolic.
The loss brings an end to the season for the Bearkats after a year that saw them win six league matches in their first year under Hubbard, the most SLC wins since 2010.