FRISCO – After dominating No. 1 singles play this season, Sam Houston State’s Sahaja Yamalapalli was selected as the Southland Conference women’s tennis Player of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday.
Yamalapalli was also named to the All-SLC first team along with junior Lusine Chobanyan at No. 4 singles. Freshman Isidora Zivkovic was a second-team selection at No. 2 singles, and the duo of sophomore Karla De La Luz Montalvo and freshman Petra Kaszas were tabbed to the second team at No. 3 doubles.
"Today's awards are absolutely a great reflection on the tremendous work and effort put in, not only by our award winners but, by our entire young squad,” head coach Rob Hubbard said. “From early morning weights and conditioning to practice and individual workouts, these young ladies have displayed a level of commitment and resolve that has produced such wonderful honors. I couldn't be prouder.
"Hopefully we can continue to build on these honors and results at the conference tournament this week.”
Yamalapalli, a sophomore from Hyderabad, India, is only the second tennis player in school history to be honored as the Player of the Year, joining Irina Sotnikova, who won the award in 2009. Yamalapalli went 10-1 in SLC singles play, including a nine-match winning streak, and 16-4 overall.
Her 16-4 dual match singles record stands as the third highest wins total and second-best dual match winning percentage (.895) in Sam Houston State history, matching her mark from the previous year.
Chobanyan, a junior from Yerevan, Armenia, went 9-2 at No. 2 singles in Southland Conference action and 11-3 overall. She played No. 5 singles the first four matches, then was promoted to No. 4 at North Texas on Feb. 8. She finished the regular season by winning nine of her last 10 matches.
Zivkovic, a freshman from Belgrade, Serbia, rolled to a 7-4 conference record in No. 2 singles play and 17-10 overall. She started the season at No. 3, and moved to No. 2 in February and won her first five matches, including opening SLC play with three straight wins.
De La Luz Montalvo and Kaszas went 5-3 in SLC No. 3 doubles action. They helped the Bearkats claim the doubles point in five of their last eight league matches.
Sam Houston State will travel to Corpus Christi this week to participate in the Southland Conference Tournament at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. The fourth-seeded Bearkats will face fifth-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the opening round at 2 p.m. Thursday.