Women's tennis season for Sam Houston State is set to open this weekend as the Bearkats travel to Abilene for three non-conference matches.

The SHSU women will play a doubleheader on Saturday, opening the season with Hardin-Simmons at 1 p.m. and then meeting Prairie View A&M at 5 p.m. at the Abilene Christian University Tennis Center.

Sunday at 12 noon the Kats will complete their weekend trip with a match against Abilene Christian.

SHSU head coach Jim Giachino is excited about starting the 2012 season.

"The girls worked hard during the fall and we've had some good practices since they've returned from Christmas break." Giachino said. "We have a great group of young ladies who are focused on improving their games."

Six players who were part of the 2011 team that earned Sam Houston State its seventh consecutive Southland Conference post-season tournament berth return.

Nadia Dubyanskaya, who was named as the team's Most Valuable Player in 2011, and Tatyana Postnikova return as juniors.

Sophomores back are Imke Jagau, who played last year in China on the Namibian national squad, and Australians Sheridan Currie, Natalie Petaia and Kayla Stevenson.

The one newcomer on the squad is Olivia Battye, a transfer from Troy University.

Sam Houston will play its first home women's tennis match on Saturday, February 25, when the Bearkats play host to McMurry.