The Sam Houston State women’s tennis team got off to a strong start to the 2019 fall season this past weekend.

Junior Sahaja Yamalapalli became the first Bearkat women’s player to defeat a Division I top-40, nationally-ranked opponent at the 2019 Oracle ITA Masters where she played against some of the top collegiate players in the country in Malibu, California.

She took down reigning Conference USA Player of the Year Michaela Haet of Rice, who was No. 38 in the ITA preseason rankings, in straight sets 6-4, 7-5 in the consolation bracket Friday. Yamalapalli followed that up Saturday with back-to-back wins over Anna Riedmiller of Denver 6-3, 6-1 in the second round and Brindtha Ramasamy of Miami-Ohio 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals to advance to the finals.

Yamalapalli’s impressive run came to an end with a straight-set loss to Iuliia Bryzgalova of Penn Sunday.

Other members of the Sam Houston State women’s tennis team competed in the rain-soaked Rice Invitational in Houston.

Junior Constandena “Dena” Nicolaou won the Flight 8 bracket with straight-set victories in her three matches. The Houston transfer defeated Haruka Sasaki of North Texas 6-1, 6-4 in the opener, Josefina Cassara of Texas State 6-2, 6-2 and Caraline Scheufler of Auburn in the finals.

Junior Karla De La Luz Montalvo won her first match of Flight 6 against Momoka Horiguchi of Texas-Arlington 6-1, 4-6, 10-8, and she defeated Rishona Lewis of Texas State 1-6, 7-6 (3), 10-1 after falling in the second round.

A pair of Bearkats advanced to the consolation finals of the Flight 7 singles but did not play each other. Junior Roos Gerritsen defeated Lindsay Song of Auburn (0-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8) to reach the finals with senior teammate Lusine Chobanyan, who beat Elena Tairyan of Houston 6-4, 6-3.

Freshman Emma Goedkoop won her opening match of Flight 9 against Catalina Cabarique of UTSA 7-5, 6-7 (3), 10-4. She lost in the second match but closed with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sophie Omoworare of UTSA 6-1, 6-3.

In doubles action, Isidora Zivkovic and Goedkoop won their first match in Flight 4 against a Selin Yaylali and Lucia Garrigues Melendez from South Florida 6-2.