Hubbard Changes Attitude and Culture in Tennis Rebuild

Following the 2015-16 season, Bearkat tennis was not in very good shape. In the three seasons prior, the team had a combined record of 5-29 in Southland Conference play. Most of Sam Houston State University’s matches were not competitive. The team was a cellar dweller in the Southland Conference and things were not looking good going forward.
Enter Rob Hubbard, a former tennis pro who had coaching stops at University of Texas Pan-American and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Hubbard took command of Bearkat tennis going into the 2016-17 season, and the Bearkats have seen a remarkable turnaround.
In his first season Hubbard got the program back to respectability, going 6-5 in Southland Conference play. The team finally had a winning record for the first time since 2010. In 2017, the Bearkats went from being respected to being feared. They went 8-3 in conference play and did not lose one match at home all season. Despite losing in the conference semifinals, it was clear following last season that the Bearkats were no longer a pushover.
The culture in Huntsville has changed drastically.
“In an interview with me they told me they needed discipline and structure in the program,” Hubbard said. “I was immediately thinking ‘Be still, my heart,” so we were able to incorporate that culture rather quickly.”
The number one thing Hubbard wanted to instill in the girls was a sense of belief.
“The most challenging part the first year was getting them to believe again,” Hubbard said. “They had been taking a lot of beatings. It wasn’t very cohesive.”
It is an environment of building each other up that Hubbard has been creating in order to create a more cohesive culture.
This season— regardless of a young roster— Hubbard has been able to do just that.
Despite having a lineup that is almost exclusively freshmen and sophomores, the Bearkats currently sit 12-6 overall and 6-3 in Southland play. Two of the losses were 4-3 defeats against conference unbeatens Northwestern State University and Abilene Christian University.
The quick turnaround should come as no surprise given Hubbard’s previous success. At UMBC, he guided the Retrievers to four consecutive conference titles from 2010-2013.
The Bearkats have just two matches left in conference play and could potentially move all the way up to third place in the conference standings. While they will not be the favorites going into the conference tournament, they have played the two top teams in the conference well. That should give the team confidence when they head to Corpus Christi.

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