After performing well in their fall season, the Sam Houston State tennis team is off to a rocky 2-6 start to the spring portion of their schedule.
With conference play set to commence next Thursday, the team is hoping to bounce back from its early mistakes.
“We played some bigger schools at first and now have more losses than wins but we are growing from that,” junior Carrie Casey said. “When conference starts we will be very prepared for the competition that will be there.”
The Bearkats had a strong showing during the fall tournament season where they competed against some of the strongest opponents in the area.
At the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Tournament in Waco, junior Khee Yen Wee and sophomore Ema Borkavic won their way to the quarterfinals appearence in the 128-player tournament in the singles position. Borkavic and junior Mila Milanovic also advanced three rounds into the consolation bracket as a doubles team.
For the reaming three tournaments, the Bearkats accumulated 29 total match victories and had numerous players advance to quarter and semifinals in both the singles and doubles matches.
Unfortunately, since the start of the regular season, the Bearkats have not had as strong of a showing as the fall. While SHSU swept both Prairie View A&M and Dallas Baptist University 7-0 in their first two matches of the spring season, the Bearkats have seen the loss column in their last six matches.
“Sometimes you need to get those losses in order to prepare for conference,” Milanovic said. “I feel like with every loss we have learned what we need to work on for the conference season.”
Milanovic and Casey said the team has made a multitude of improvements from last season thanks to the program’s new head coach, Rob Hubbard.
“It has been a really big change from last year,” Milanovic said. “He has brought discipline and has showed us how to improve in the game, especially in the doubles, and you can tell he wants you to improve and get the best out of tennis.”
On Saturday, the Bearkats will play their last non-conference game of the season against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. Both Milanovic and Casey defeated the Broncos in doubles during the fall season and feel the team is more on their level than their previous competitors.
“I’m really excited about this match because I feel like this team is more on our level,” Milanovic said. “This match will show us where we are at for the conference and it’s a really good match to finish this part of the season.”
SHSU will hit the road and face UTRGV on Saturday at 11 a.m. where the Bearkats hope to end a six game losing slump. The following week, on March 2, the tennis program is set to play their first Southland Conference match of the season against Stephen F. Austin at the McAdams Tennis Complex at 2:30 p.m.