The Sam Houston State University tennis program had a strong showing at their last tournament of the fall season in Waco over the weekend.
While there was no team placing at the Division I Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships, individual players and doubles teams for SHSU put up a fight against some of the top player in Texas.
“We played well,” head coach Rob Hubbard said. “ We had some advances in the main draw and deep into the consolation, which is huge.”
Sophomore Ema Barkovic made it to the semi finals in her bracket after she defeated Stephen F. Austin’s number one player, Denise Maxl. Barkovic fell in the semi final round to Valeria Lopez from the University of Texas Arlington in a three set match. While Barkovic defeated Lopez in the first set 6-2, she fell 3-6 and 4-10 in the last two sets.
Junior Khee Yen Wee also made a huge stride in her bracket, but fell in the semifinals to Maria Kononova from North Texas University in a two game set of 2-6 and 2-6.
In doubles, Barkovic and junior Mila Milanovic made it to the quarterfinals, but were defeated by Eva Dench and Alex Jones from Texas State University 1-8.
Hubbard said the fall tournament season has been preparation from the regular season.
“Everything we have done this fall was in preparation for January,” Hubbard said. “We have upped the strength and conditioning and improved doubles play.”
The strength and conditioning improvements have paid off and caught the eye of another team at the regional tournament. Hubbard said a coach approached him and said he did not see a more fit than the Bearkats present at the ITA.
With the hiring of Hubbard as the new head coach, he has brought a change of culture to the tennis program. Along with the improvement of strength and conditioning, Hubbard has been working with the team off the court as well.
“It is very important that the team is really close,” Hubbard said. “They have done a really good job with team building and they are all in for trying to change things in a more positive direction.”
The regular season will start back up on Jan. 13 at the McAdams Tennis Courts in Huntsville. The team will take on Prairie View A&M, but until then, the team will be working on their main goal of making it to the Southland Conference Championships.