HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats rallied from behind to give head coach Rob Hubbard his 300th career victory on Friday afternoon, taking down UTSA at the McAdams Tennis Center.
The Bearkats (3-2) were playing at home for the first time after a pair of matches on the road last weekend, and behind the biggest crowd since Hubbard’s arrival prior to the 2017 spring season, were able to overcome dropping the doubles point to hand the Roadrunners (2-4) their fourth loss of the year.
“It definitely was a barn burner, but I am very proud of how hard our team fought especially when we had our back against the wall a few times,” Hubbard said after the match. “I told them not only did they add a few more gray hairs to my head but they blessed me with my 300th career win the hard way.”
The win certainly did come the hard way after the Kats quickly surrendered the doubles point to UTSA, dropping the matches at courts one and three by 6-1 scores to give the Roadrunners an early 1-0 lead.
But singles play has been where SHSU has shined early this year, and they showed why once again right away, scoring each of the first three points on the singles courts before Ema Barkovic provided the clinching point on the No. 2 court.
“They applied what we learned about ourselves last weekend and used it to bring us an important victory over a Conference USA opponent,” Hubbard said. “Hopefully we continue to grow from this as the all-important conference season is just around the corner.”
Lusine Chobanyan was the first to score on the singles court, picking up her second singles win of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Charleen Tiwari. Isidora Zivkovic was right behind her with a victory at No. 3, rolling past Laura Cabrera by a 6-3, 6-1 score to move to 3-1 in singles play for the year.
The Kats went up 3-1 with the next point, coming on the strength of a comeback win from Roos Gerritsen. She dropped the opening set to Sophie Omoworare on the No. 6 court, 4-6, before rallying to dominate the final two sets, 6-1, 6-1, to earn the victory.
Kylee Kato picked up a win for UTSA at No. 4 to make it a 3-2 match, but Barkovic clinched it one point later in comeback fashion as well. She fell 4-6 in the opening set to Mariah Plauth on the No. 2 court, but responded with wins 6-4 and 7-6 to clinch the set.
Still, SHSU added one more point to its total as Sahaja Yamalapalli outlasted UTSA’s top player, Jasmin Starr, by a 2-6, 7-6, 7-6 score for her third singles win of the year.
Hubbard and his Bearkats now face a tough four-match stretch on the road to close out pre-conference play, beginning Feb. 8 at North Texas. They will next be at home when they kick off Southland Conference play against Nicholls on March 1.