Longtime Texas coaching family suffers loss

The Texas tennis family lost one of their own when Courtney Longbotham, formerly of Groesbeck, was killed in a car accident this weekend.

Courtney was the sister of SMU Women’s Tennis Coach, Lauren Longbotham-Meisner and the daughter of the longtime Groesbeck High School Tennis Coach, Jim Longbotham.

The family has asked that anyone wishing to honor Courtney do so with a donation to the Groesbeck Tennis Association.

Groesbeck Tennis Association
c/o Tonya Glass-President
352 Riverview Dr.
Groesbeck, Texas 76642

Abilene Christian dominates Women’s DII Regional

Abilene Christian’s Julia Mongin defeated teammate Joclyn Walker, 63 63, to win the singles title at the Women’s Division II USTA/ITA South Central Regional Championship held at Abilene Christian, September 24-26. Neither player dropped a set and it was Mongin’s second title in as many weeks. She took the The Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational at The Racquet Club in Midland last week, knocking off six straight NCAA Division I opponents on her way to the title.

Walker and Mongin teamed to capture the doubles title. The ladies from Abilene cruised through the draw, defeating the second-seeded team of Amanda Moberg and Julia Puckhaber of Cameron, 62 63, in the final.

The winners advance to the ITA Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala., later this fall.


Hardin-Simmons, UT-Tyler pace Women’s DIII USTA/ITA Regional Championship

Top-seeded Lisa Mertz of Hardin-Simmons upheld her seed, winning the Women’s A Singles at the Division III 2010 USTA/ITA Regional Championship held at Trinity University September 24-26. Mertz, a senior, toppled freshman Arianne Goddard, 75 62 in the final. Goddard, who was unseeded, made the best of her fist collegiate tournament, upsetting the third seed, Thavindra Ekanayake of Trinity in the quarters and second-seeded Michelle Hagler of UT-Tyler in the semis.

In doubles action, UT-Tyler’s Sydni Hermsdorf and Emily McRae, the top-seed, beat the second-seeded team of Mertz and Jennifer Chueng of Hardin-Simmons, 62 63 in the final.

The winners advance to the ITA Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala., later this fall.

The Men’s DIII USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Championship will be held at Trinity University in San Antonio this coming weekend.


Tyler Junior College Sweeps USTA/ITA Regional Championships

Tyler Junior College looks to be the team to beat this year at the JuCo level as they swept all four titles at the USTA/ITA Regional Championship held in Laredo this weekend.

Mario Jakovljevic captured the men’s singles title over Rafael Coutinho of Laredo, 6-1, 6-1. He then teamed with Pete Thomasonto take the doubles title over Coutinho and Felipe Baptista.

On the women’s side, it was an all-TJC final when Sun Wen bested teammate Antonia Kolovou, 6-3, 6-3.  The doubles was also all-TJY, as Wen and Kolovou teamed to beat top-seeded Elisha Gabb and Kristina Kinarkina, also of Tyler.


USTA/ITA Regionals Coming to Texas

From Texas.usta.com… but I can do that.

Over the next month, various schools across the state will be playing host to the 2010 USTA/ITA Regional Championships. These events are a great opportunity to expose younger players, not only to some of the up and coming players at the collegiate level, but also expose these players to the college atmosphere.


Collegiate tennis has a great history in the state of Texas. Not only have there been great teams from the state, but many great events have been hosted in Texas as well.

The USTA/ITA Regional Championships are a series of tournaments where players compete individually for the chance to compete at the national level.

The ITA Regional Championships, currently sponsored by the USTA, date back to 1981 and for nearly two decades were also known as the Rolex Regional Championships.

The Small College (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) singles and doubles champions from the USTA/ITA Regional Championships will advance to the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, held October 14-17 at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama. The USTA/ITA National Small College Championships are comprised of the eight regional champions (and/or at-large selections) from NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community Colleges.

USTA/ITA Regional Championships in Texas
DI Men Texas A&M October 23-26
DI Women Baylor October 22-26
DII Women Abilene Christian October 24-26
DIII Men Trinity October 1-3
DIII Women Trinity September 24-26
JuCo Men Laredo College September 24-26
JuCo Women Laredo College September 24-26
The USTA/ITA National Small College Championship is the only national championship event for singles and doubles at the NCAA Division II and NAIA levels. It is also the only tournament that combines all levels of Junior/Community College (NJCAA Divisions I and III and the California division). The singles and doubles champions at each divisional level will then compete to become the overall “Super Bowl” champions. The “Super Bowl” champions earn wild cards into the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships with the opportunity to win the culminating event held at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.


The singles and doubles champions from the NCAA Division I USTA/ITA Regional Championships will advance to the 2010 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, taking place November 4-7, at the new indoor facilities at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, located in Flushing, New York. Columbia University will serve as the tournament host.

The most unique element of the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Championships program is the fact that all levels of varsity college tennis (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) are competing in one comprehensive event, and any ITA varsity student-athlete has the opportunity to play and win at the prestigious USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Fall Season Begins Friday

Well the collegiate tennis season is upon us, as Fall tournaments crop up all over the country.

Many of the “biggies” will play in Midland at the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational. The men’s event will feature players from at least 18 schools including Baylor, Boise State, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, Nebraska, SMU, Texas, Tulsa, Maryland, New Mexico, Abilene Christian, Texas A&M, San Diego, University of Texas- Arlington, Rice, Penn State, Texas Tech and TCU.

Rice juniors Michael Nuesslein and Christian Saravia will be joined by sophomore transfer Harry Fowler and freshman Peter Frank during the weekend. The Owls are only sending four players to Midland so as to not have the tournament count as one of their fall team dates.

“It will be a good early test for all four of them,“ Rice head coach Ron Smarr said. “The fall is when we have a chance to work on doubles, so we’ll have Michael and Christian play as one team and Harry and Peter as the other. The fall is also important because it builds up the basis to determine if you will be ranked for the start of the spring season. The quality of the field at Midland will be a good test for all of them,” Smarr added.

Sophomore Sergio Ramirez (Cali, Columbia) and freshman Robert Verzaal (Shreveport, La.) will make up the Baylor contingent in this weekend’s event.

“It is a matter of just getting some match play in,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “Tennis is a competition sport. Sergio and Robert just need to get up there and compete. Both have different objectives, but both are just trying to get better.”

Ramirez is coming off of a season where he saw limited action in Baylor’s singles lineup, going 9-2 for the year and 8-2 in dual-match play. Verzaal, Baylor’s lone freshman on a veteran laden team, opens his college career after being rated the No. 1 recruit from the state of Louisiana by tennisrecruiting.net.

“Sergio didn’t play a match this summer and Robert has made a lot of changes in his game since he got here this fall,” Knoll said. “They are both just going to try to get a little better and this is a strong tournament in order for them to do that.”

TCU will be sending senior Zach Nichols and junior Paul Chappell in what will be the first event of new head coach David Roditi’s career.

Nichols and Chappell will team up in the doubles draw, as they look revisit the strong chemistry they were able to produce last spring. The tandem posted an 11-7 record during the 2010 dual-match season that included victories in nine of its last 12 outings. In addition to pairing up in doubles, both Nichols and Chappell will also compete in singles. Nichols has been seeded No. 6 in the singles draw.

Texas’ Alex Hilliard, Chris Camillone, Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead will join the action as well.

“There always is a strong field at this event in Midland. The guys worked very hard this summer, and we’re excited to finally let them put their hard work to good use and showcase their improvement. Alex is much stronger. His consistency has improved. It’s just a matter of Alex executing his shots and doing it with consistency. He had a good summer, has worked hard, and he is ready to play better this year. Chris is one of our most improved guys. He qualified for some ATP Futures events this summer had some nice results. Chris is one of our better athletes. I have really felt that as Chris matures and figures out the type of player he wants to be that his progress would come to fruition. We will see that from him. Ben Chen had an excellent summer. He earned an ATP point and recorded a win over Daniel Nguyen, who has played on USC’s national championship teams the last two seasons. Ben has gained some confidence and has become much stronger. We think he’s ready to break out and show his talents. Daniel Whitehead won a lot of matches on the ITA Texas section circuit and made the semifinals of an ITA national event. His confidence is high, and like the rest of the guys, he used this summer to gain strength. He needed some work when he got here, but he is much stronger now.”

On the women’s side, teams will be playing not only in Midland, but also in Corpus Christi, New Mexico and at Duke.

The Rice women’s tennis team will open their 2010 fall campaign by splitting up to take part in a pair of college tennis tournaments this weekend.

Six of the Owls (Rebekka Hänle, Jessica Jackson, Ana Guzman, Alex Rasch, Danni Trigo and Dominique Harmath) will travel west to take part in the Midland Racquet Club Invitational in Midland, while four others (Varsha Shiva-Shankar, Mecklin Ragan, Leah Fried and Kim Anicete) will head Corpus Christi for the Islander Invite.

“We’re excited to be able to get out on the court and play some matches,” Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. “I know our three freshmen are ready to get that first collegiate match in the books.”

Four Longhorns set to compete at the season-opening Duke Invitational in Cary, N.C, joining teams from Duke, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Northwestern, Princeton, Purdue and Wisconsin.

“This will be an extremely tough tournament, but we’re looking forward to getting the season started and getting some match play under their belts. We will take some of our veterans – Aeriel Ellis, Krista Damico, Maggie Mello and Caroline Larsson.”

Five members of the Texas A&M women’s tennis team open the fall season Friday at the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational.

“This tournament will be a good test for us, and it will give us a good indication of what we need to work on,” said Kleinecke, who is entering his 26th season at the helm of the Aggies. “We’ve had some good practices so far, and it will be good to get in some matches.”

Seniors Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch) and Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.), juniors Sheri Olivier (Topeka, Kan.) and Lauren Santacroce (Spring), and redshirt sophomore Janelle Cuthbertson (Perth, Australia), who sat out the spring season, will be competing in the tournament

Sullivan Named Coach at SFA

Stephen F. Austin director of athletics Robert Hill announced that Patrick Sullivan has been named the new head coach of the women’s tennis program. Sullivan replaces Bret Arrant who retired after 17 seasons following the 2009-10 season.

“Patrick brings a wealth of experience to the position and has a proven record of signing good players,” SFA Director of Athletics Robert Hill said. “He has accepted my challenge of improving our tennis program and I fully expect him to succeed based on what he was able to do at SMU and Arkansas.”

Sullivan is assuming head coaching duties for the first time in his career, coming to SFA after stints as an assistant at SMU and most recently at Arkansas.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the SFA family and proud to be the head tennis coach,” Sullivan said. “We have challenges in front of us, but we also have great opportunities with everything SFA has to offer – a great university, outstanding community, supportive administration, and thanks to the generous contributions of the Schlief family, a terrific new tennis facility that is one of the best in Texas. Everything is in place to help us take SFA tennis to new heights and we are up to the challenge.”

Sullivan spent two separate tours at Arkansas, most recently in 2009-10 where he helped lead the Razorbacks to an 18-10 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Hogs knocked off No. 42 Oklahoma in the first round before falling to top-seeded Texas one round later.

Sullivan had previously served as a graduate assistant coach with head coach Michael Hegarty and the Razorbacks from 2004-06 before taking over as the assistant coach during the 2006-07 season. In his first season, the Razorbacks achieved their first .500 record since the 1990s and broke their 49-match Southeastern Conference losing streak with a win at Auburn.

In his second season, Sullivan helped guide Arkansas to an NCAA Tournament berth, on the heels of a five-match conference win streak, the Razorbacks’ longest since 1997. During his tenure at Arkansas, four of Sullivan’s players achieved national rankings, including two players in the top 25. In 2007, Sullivan’s final season, the Razorbacks fielded the ITA Central Region’s top-ranked singles player and two of the region’s top-five doubles teams.

Before his latest season at Arkansas, Sullivan was in Dallas serving as assistant women’s tennis coach at SMU for two seasons, assisting in all aspects for the Mustangs’ program and helping the team to a school all-time best 28-3 record in 2008-09 and their first top-25 finish in 20 years. In his two years at SMU, three of Sullivan’s recruits garnered national rankings in singles and four different doubles pairs appeared in the top-50. Sullivan’s teams dominated on the court as well as in the classroom, earning nine all-conference athletic and academic awards, conference newcomer of the year, freshman of the year, and player of the year awards, as well as earning the highest GPA of any team on campus in back-to-back years.

Prior to Arkansas, Sullivan worked as a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s tennis team at his alma mater, Texas A&M University. His coaching responsibilities at Texas A&M included working with the strength and conditioning coaches and supervising the team’s summer conditioning program. During his time in College Station, Sullivan was also the head coach of the boys and girls tennis teams at the Brazos Christian School.

A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sullivan recently relocated to Nacogdoches with his wife, Caroline.

TCU Finally Announces Roditi as Coach

David Roditi, one of the great players in the history of the TCU men’s tennis program, has been hired as the Horned Frogs’ new head coach, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Chris Del Conte announced Tuesday. Roditi, a three-time doubles All-American who lettered from 1993 through 1996, still holds the school record for career combined victories.

Roditi takes over the program from former head coach Dave Borelli, who returned to the TCU women’s program after spending the last three seasons with the men’s squad.

“We are very excited to bring Dave Roditi back home to TCU,” Del Conte said. “Dave is a true Horned Frog and an excellent fit to lead our men’s tennis program. He had an exceptional playing career and experience here as a student-athlete. We have no doubt his passion for TCU will carry into a successful coaching career.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back at TCU,” Roditi said. “This is a dream I have been working towards since the day I left as a player. It is an honor to follow in the great tradition of head coaches at TCU highlighted by the legendary Tut Bartzen. We will continue to uphold the great tennis tradition that TCU has always had, and I plan on making the same positive impact that Coach Bartzen made on me as a student-athlete.”

Roditi inherits a veteran TCU men’s tennis team poised for one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. Five of the top six singles players from last year’s Mountain West Conference Tournament championship squad return, including four Frogs who have earned all-conference honors at least once in their careers. Last season’s team concluded its season in the NCAA tournament for the 19th time in the last 20 years.

“I am excited about the team we have this year, and I have no doubt that we will have a successful season,” Roditi said. “Our experience and senior leadership will be key for us as we look to continue TCU’s strong tradition on the courts,” Roditi said.

Roditi returns to TCU after serving the previous five years as Lead National Coach at the USTA Training Center in Carson, Calif. Prior to joining the USTA in 2005, he worked as the Associate Director of St. Stephens Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas, and was also an assistant coach at Texas from 2000-02.

Among the players Roditi has coached with the USTA is current top American male prospect Ryan Harrison, who recently upended 15th seed Ivan Ljubicic in the first round of the U.S. Open. The victory marked the first win in a Grand Slam tournament for the 18-year old, who has been under Roditi’s watch since he was only 13. In addition to Harrison, Roditi has tutored a number of other top juniors. He served as coach for the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team that won the 2008 Junior Davis Cup title.

Other players Roditi has been involved with include John Isner, currently the world’s No. 20-ranked singles player. Isner grabbed headlines this past summer for his first-round victory at Wimbledon over Nicolas Mahut that ranked as the longest match in the history of professional tennis (6-3, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68).

Roditi will lead a TCU program that he helped build into a national power during a four-year career from 1993 through 1996 playing for legendary former head coach Tut Bartzen. The Frogs finished the season ranked among the nation’s top-7 teams in each of Roditi’s final three years, including a school-record rating of No. 3 following his senior campaign. The Frogs advanced to the NCAA semifinals that season, one of three Final Four appearances in program history.

In addition to the team’s success during his playing days, Roditi racked up numerous individual accomplishments as a Frog. A nationally ranked player during each of his four years on campus, he twice reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships alongside partner Paul Robinson. The pair finished the 1995 season ranked No. 2 nationally in doubles and was rated as high as No. 1 at times in both 1995 and 1996. Among the titles won by the duo were two ITA National Clay Court championships (1994, 1995) and the 1994 ITA All-American Championships crown. The players were also named to the Rolex Collegiate All-Star Team in 1996.

Roditi capped his career by earning a career-best No. 25 singles rating in 1996 to go along with a No. 5 mark in doubles. Overall, he posted a career combined record of 250-82 for TCU, which is 12 victories more than any other player in program history. He also ranks No. 2 in doubles wins (121) and No. 4 in singles victories (129). Three times he was ranked All-Southwest Conference in both singles and doubles (1004, 1995, 1996) and he combined for five individual SWC individual singles and doubles titles. The accomplishments resulted in his election to the TCU Letterman’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

Following his time as a Frog, Roditi experienced a highly successful professional career. He reached a career-high position of No. 41 in the ATP doubles rankings and recorded a win over the former No. 1 doubles team of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. He also represented Mexico in 10 Davis Cup matches.

Roditi graduated from TCU in 1996 with a degree in marketing.