Casey, Kats Notch Wins at SMU Invitational

Another tournament, another strong performance for the Sam Houston State women’s tennis team.

The Bearkats competed in the three-day SMU invitational last weekend and picked up a total of eight wins in both the singles and doubles draws. First year head coach Rob Hubbard was pleased with his team’s performance.

“I thought we had a pretty good showing,” Hubbard said. “It wasn’t quite as strong as Corpus Christi, or Rice [tournaments], but we didn’t have quite as many individual wins. There were some good things that came out of it. They were some good wins and I did see a lot of improvement. It was probably one of the toughest tournaments we’ve played.”

Junior Carrie Casey was among the many Bearkats to pick up wins in singles play. She competed in the No. 8 singles draw and took home wins in both of her matches before falling in the finals.

Casey defeated UTSA’s Diya Menon (6-4, 6-2) in the opening round. She then took on Abilene Christian’s Jordan Henry in the semifinals, where she would overcome a first set loss to win (4-6, 6-4, 6-2). Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Kerry Galhos would eventually take down Casey in the finals (6-4, 2-6, 12-10).

“Casey was probably the biggest standout,” Hubbard said. “She made the finals of her flight, had match point to win, and it just got away from her. She was actually a little bit tight in her first match. Then her second match she relaxed a lot more and was able to execute her strategies a lot better. She has been working really hard on her game.”

Junior Fabienne Gettwart also notched a win in singles play, after dropping matches in each of the first two days of the tournament. She defeated Marquette’s Diana Tokar (6-3, 7-5) to close out the tournament.

Junior Mila Milanovic and freshman Dianne Friedrichs also found wins in singles play. Milanovic competed in the No. 7 singles draw and won her first match against ULM’s Luana Stanciu (7-5, 6-1), while Friedriches picked up a win over SMU’s Sara Jamal (6-3, 6-4. Milanovic’s singles play would eventually come to an end in a close match against Marquette’s Isabella Franks (6-3, 7-6, 10-7).

“We lost several really close matches,” Hubbard said. “We lost some close ones over the tournament, but that just means we have to go back to the drawing board and keep working on what we’re doing. We also have to recognize that we’re playing a higher level of competition, which is what we want. I saw a lot of improvement and things we have to go to work on.”

Throughout the three fall tournaments, the Bearkats have been really focused on doubles play. Hubbard has implemented a new doubles system since taking over as head coach, and it seems to be working in full effect as the Bearkats notched multiple doubles wins at the SMU Invitational.

Fredrichs and junior Caitlyn Mitchell stole the show for the Kats in doubles play as they notched two wins in the No. 4 doubles draw. The two Bearkats defeated Marquette’s Courtney Hebbard and Fleur Eggink (6-4) before ending the weekend with a (6-4) victory over UTSA’s Linda Hallgren and Menon. They would eventually fall in the semifinals.

“Caitlyn [Mitchell] and Dianne [Fredrichs] lost a very close one in the semifinals of their flight,” Hubbard said. “They had a couple of match points at, but they were in position to win the match and it got away from them. Some of that is experience and some of that is just continuing to work on the doubles tactics.”

The duo of Casey and Gettwart competed in the No. 2 doubles draw and knocked off Air Force’s sister duo of Lilly and Chloe Forlini (6-3).

“Doubles went pretty well,” Hubbard said. “I have a few more wrinkles I need to throw in to help us develop, but we’re going one step at a time. They’ve improved and they’re all doing well with trying to execute what we’ve implemented with the doubles.”

Although Southland Conference play begins Jan. 13, Hubbard believes that the fall tournaments are important learning measures in preparation for the conference season in January. Hubbard thinks the team took home a valuable lesson from the SMU Invitational, especially with all the close matches.

“I think the team learned how to approach things mentally,” Hubbard said. “Some of the points that we perceive as very important, how do we then play those points? How we’re dealing with the bigger points in these very close matches is probably one of the big things we took away from this one.”

The Bearkats will next hit the court in two weeks to compete in the four-day ITA Regionals beginning on Oct. 20. The tournament will be held at Baylor University in Waco, TX.

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