HUNTSVILLE - The Sam Houston women’s tennis team opens its 2018 spring dual match schedule with a home match Friday versus Prairie View A&M  at the McAdams Tennis Center. First serve is  at 2 p.m. 

Following the Bearkats’ most successful season in the past seven years and promising performances in four talent-laden fall tournaments, the 2018 squad is anxious to get action underway.

The Kat netters rolled to the program’s first winning Southland Conference record since 2010, its highest overall victory total since 2012 and the team’s first Southland postseason tournament appearance since 2013 during the 2017 campaign.

Returning seniors Fabienne Gettwart, Mila Milanovic, Carrie Casey and Khee Yen Wee join with freshman Sahaja Yamalapalli and transfer Lusine Chobanyon to give head coach Rob Hubbard a solid line-up for his second season at the helm of the Bearkat program.

“The team is excited about opening the 2018 season at home,” head coach Rob Hubbard said. “We are challenging ourselves with a strong pre-conference slate that will help us prepare for another tight Southland Conference race. The players worked hard all fall and during the past week since returning from the holiday break.”

Friday’s foe, Prairie View A&M, visited Huntsville for year’s season opener as Sam Houston began its schedule by blanking Prairie View 7-0.

“Overall, during our fall tournament schedule, the team made a good showing against talented fields in tournaments at Rice, New Orleans, TCU and in our inaugural home fall invitational,” Hubbard said. “We had strong, well-contested matches against top competition.”

In September and October tournament action Sam Houston posted victories over players from Alabama, Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Florida, TCU and Texas Tech.

After playing short-handed in several matches late in the season with a seven-player roster in 2017, Hubbard has addition depth on the 2018 squad. Newcomers include freshmen Clarissa Escamilla, Asni Hill, Wendy French and Rosalie Gerritson. Senior Ema Barkovic will redshirt in 2018 but will continue to provide outstanding leadership as team captain.

Sam Houston was scheduled to play host to UT-Rio Grande Valley Sunday. Due to the cold weather conditions forecast this weekend, the match has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 18 at 12 noon.

Other non-conference matches scheduled for the McAdams Tennis Center this spring include Louisiana Tech Friday, Feb. 9, Texas State Sunday Feb. 11 and New Mexico State Sunday Feb. 17. Southland Conference action starts Friday March 2 at Northwestern State. The Bearkat women will play five home league matches during the 2018 campaign. The Southland tournament will be held in Beaumont in April.