Friday, Feb. 2 • Northwestern State • 1 p.m.
Jack Fisher Tennis Complex
Sam Houston (5-2) vs. Northwestern State (4-5)
THIBIDAUX, LA – The Sam Houston women’s tennis team opens Southland Conference play Friday on the road against Northwestern State. First serve is at 1 p.m. at the Jack Fisher Tennis Complex.
The Bearkats, who bring a 5-2 non-conference record into the contest, have a score to settle with the Demons. After rain forced play indoors at The Woodlands last season, the Kats won the first set of all six singles matches and followed up with straight set victories at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5.
Needing only one more individual victory to clinch, the players in the last three singles held match points nine times but couldn’t convert. Northwestern State bounced back to win each of those matches in three sets and took the doubles point to close out the Kats in a heart-breaker 4-3.
“No way anyone on this team is forgetting that match,” head coach Rob Hubbard said. “From the start that day, we were focused and came out firing. Unfortunately, we did not finish them off when we had the points on our racquets. However, it was an important match in our turn-around season last year. We learned about finishing and gained confidence as the team went on to post Sam Houston’s highest victory total in five seasons and earn a tournament berth.”
The upcoming Southland Conference women’s tennis race looks to be one of the closest in years. Six teams have posted winning records in the first month of intersectional play. Among squads from other conferences that have fallen victim to Southland squads are Arkansas State, Oral Roberts, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Southern Mississippi, New Mexico and Missouri State.
Bearkat players have been in the running for Southland Conference “Player of the Week” honors throughout the young 2018 season. Sophomore Lusine Chobanyan won the honor on January 19. Seniors Fabienne Gettwart and Carrie Casey and freshman Sahaja Yamalapalli all have earned honorable mention status in the weekly voting.
Chobanyan sports a 6-0 record in dual match singles while Casey is 6-1. Gettwart, Yamalapalli and senior Mila Milanovic each have recorded four singles wins. Senior Khee Yen Wee showed she is returning to form as she posted an impressive singles victory in the Kats’ last outing, a 4-3 win over UT-Rio Grande Valley.
Casey and Milanovic partner as Sam Houston’s number one doubles. Gettwart and Wee played at the number two position. Two freshman, Yamalapalli and Roos Gerritson pair at number three doubles/
Northwestern State stands 4-5 in non-conference action. The Demons own victories over UTSA, Texas State, Connecticut and Southern Mississippi. Their losses have come at the hands of LSU, Tulane, UL-Lafayette, Houston and SMU. Four of the players who were on the court against SHSU last year return and are joined by a talented group of newcomers.
“We know is this going to be a battle and we will have to play our very best to win,” Hubbard said. “We haven’t played a match in two weeks due to the rain-outs last week, but we have been focused on starting strong in conference play since January.”
The Northwestern State match is the first of two road contests for the Bearkats this weekend. Sam Houston will travel to Nacogdoches Sunday for a 1 p.m. tilt with Stephen F. Austin.
SAM HOUSTON VS. NORTHWESTERN STATE SERIES RECORD
Northwestern State has dominated the series which began in 1985 when the pair were competitors in the Gulf Star Conference. The Demons have won 30 times to only three victories for the Bearkats (in 2000, 2006 and 2007). Northwestern State has won the 10 years in a row.