Hubbard Shaping Program as Head Coach, Team Preparing for SMU Invitational

The sport of tennis can be perceived as an individual sport, but that is not necessarily the case with Sam Houston State women’s tennis team. This stance comes from the leadership of new head coach Rob Hubbard.

The team had strong performances at both the Islander Invite and the Rice Invitational. In their previous tournament, the Bearkats captured two consolation singles championships, as well as a pair of doubles consolation championships. The Kats will look to continue their hot play at the three-day SMU Invitational on Friday.

“They’re kind of exceeding some expectations, but really the biggest thing I expect out of the ladies is that they give me 100 percent and they work hard,” Hubbard said. “Things have been going well. We’ve had some nice early results in doubles, which was one of the big keys we were worried about. We’ll see how the SMU Invitational goes.”

Doubles play has been something that Hubbard has put emphasis on since becoming head coach. Coming in, he knew that doubles was a key weakness of the team last year; so he has established a system, which he believes is working just right.

“I’ve sort of taught them how we’re going to do doubles and put a system in play,” Hubbard said. “It was a little new for them and they’ve accepted that. They actually like it. I’ve liked the results so far. Everyone knows what role they have in doubles, and now we’re starting to figure out chemistry in doubles teams.”

Along with the new doubles system, Hubbard and the strength and conditioning coaches have also upped the anti on the program’s strength and conditioning practices. The new routine is designed to pair hand-in-hand with the players’ development on the court.

“We stepped up what the strength and condition program was from last year. That has been a big bite for them to have to chew on a little bit, but they’ve done it willingly and they’re all in,” Hubbard said. “There wasn’t a lot of conditioning done last year. The program was very inconsistent, and the women were certainly looking for more out of the program.”

The Bearkats now train on a five-day program. The team lifts weights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and they do running, condition and agility drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I met with the strength and conditioning coaches my first day here and we organized the five-day program,” Hubbard said. “They’ve responded well. They’ve gotten a little bit tired, but when we see they’re a little tired we give them that extra day off to rest. Everything we do with the strength in conditioning is really focused around the core and the legs because those are the two main areas for tennis players.”

In order to be successful at tennis, players have to develop a great deal of physical and mental endurance. Hubbard and the staff understand this as they have a clear off-court objective.

“You want to physically feel that there’s no one superior to you on the court, then that allows that mental side to kick in,” Hubbard said. “If you’re physically in bad shape, it’s very difficult for the mind to override that during a competition. Our goal is to get them into the best shape of their lives, and then once you’re at that point the game is 80 percent mental.”

The previous two tournaments, and the upcoming SMU Invitational, are all apart of the team’s preseason, but Hubbard and the Bearkats are taking them one step at a time in order to prepare for Southland Conference play, which begins in January.

“The whole focus I’ve been trying to impress upon them is this is all preparation for January,” Hubbard said. “If they win all their matches, which none of them have, but if they win far more than they lose, then that’s great. Everything is about trying to execute strategies and tactics that I’m trying to implement. Right now, the main purpose of this fall is to get ready for January.”

The Kats are gearing up for a successful outing in Dallas, as the team continues to have solid practices. Hubbard says that the team has really impressed him their dedication and work ethic.

“The practices have been going well. I’ve had no complaints and I never have to get into anyone’s ear about working hard,” Hubbard said. “They’re all really hard workers and they’re giving me their best effort. If we can keep that consistency in practice, where we give 100 percent every time, then we’re going to max out what we can do.”

The Bearkat tennis team will travel to Dallas on Thursday, compete in the SMU Invitational on Friday and conclude play on Oct. 9.

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