FRISCO – Khee Yen Wee was named to the all-Southland Conference second team and the doubles team of Mila Milanovic and Carrie Casey earned honorable mention as a tandem in a release by league officials on Wednesday.
Each of the three Bearkats have been a key part of the team’s resurgence in 2016, and will be back on the court on Friday when the Kats open up the Southland Conference Tournament against second-seeded Lamar in what is Sam Houston’s first appearance in the event since 2013.
“This is a great tribute to the kids and the work that they have done,” head coach Rob Hubbard. “It’s been a while since we had players on the all-Southland team and for Khee to come back after last year’s injuries and lack of playing time and make an all-conference team is awesome. For Mila and Carrie, it speaks highly of all the work they have done and the rest of the team to improve our doubles point.”
Wee is the first Bearkat singles player to earn all-league honors since 2013, finishing the regular season with a 12-8 singles mark and an 8-2 record in Southland play. Her second-team honor came at the No. 3 spot, but she also played in both the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the team’s last three matches of the year.
She scored her biggest non-conference win in picking up the Kats lone point in its meeting with eventual Conference USA champion Rice in late February, handing Fernanda Astete – who has picked up 18 singles wins on the year - a three-set defeat in Houston. That sparked a run of nine wins in 11 matches for Wee that included six straight at No. 3 singles and a victory over fellow all-SLC choice QiLi Ma of Central Arkansas in Sam Houston’s win over the Sugar Bears.
Wee’s final two matches came on the road at the No. 1 spot in the lineup and she held a 1-0 lead and a 3-1 advantage in the second set over UNO’s Trang Dao – a second team all-SLC selection at No. 1 singles – before the match was called after UNO secured the clinching point. Two days later Wee responded with a straight-set win over SLU’s Fleur Holtkamp in the top spot, leading the Kats to a 4-3 win over the Lions in the season finale despite the team fielding just four players.
“Khee was dominating in the No. 3 spot and as the season went on she had to step up because she was getting hotter and hotter and due to the injuries we had,” Hubbard said. “She was even in position to win a couple of more that were stopped and really had a hot hand. She was really big in able to cover for the injuries and I’m really proud of the effort she put in this season.”
Meanwhile, the tandem of Milanovic and Casey finished with a 10-9 record on the year and a 7-3 mark in league play. Eight of their 10 victories came at the No. 1 doubles spot as they won seven of their last eight matches that played to the finish.
“There was a need to change the culture and the girls have been accepting of that,” Hubbard said. “There was a huge weakness in doubles last year and we won seven this year with match-point opportunities in three others. They bought in to the system that was put into place and made it their own. This is a great honor for both Mila and Carrie in representing all of our doubles teams with the hard work they put in.”
The duo’s effort helped the Kats claim seven doubles points after winning just four in all of 2016. The team picked up a 6-2 win over Stephen F. Austin’s top team in helping the Kats take the doubles point and take down the Ladyjacks in the league opener and kicked off a run of five straight victories on March 17 with a No. 2 win over UIW.
Milanovic and Casey followed that up with a win over the No. 2 team from league-champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before running off consecutive wins over the top tandems from Central Arkansas, Lamar and McNeese and closing the year with a win over Southeastern Louisiana.