"We reached a lot of the goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year," stated head coach Jeff Clark who wraps up the fourth year of his second stint at UTC. "We had a winning record in the Southern Conference, we earned a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, we had double-digit wins and we finished the regular season with a winning record."
After going 3-7 in SoCon play in 2010, the Lady Mocs improved a full three games in league matches this season. That is the biggest jump for the program since posting a 2-5 mark in 1993 and following that with a 7-2 SoCon record in 1994.
Chattanooga's 6-4 SoCon tally and fifth place finish were its best marks since placing fourth with the same league mark in 2004. UTC's 11 wins are the most since going 11-14 in 2006.
"Another good thing was we defeated four teams during the regular season that beat us the previous year," added Clark. "Those teams included Jacksonville State - who won the Ohio Valley Conference - Elon, Davidson and Georgia Southern."
SENIORS ANNIE GREEN & GRACE ROBINETTE LED THE TURNAROUND
The Lady Mocs have two seniors on their roster in Annie Green (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Grace Robinette (Chattanooga, Tenn.). They both fought through injuries and illnesses this season, but were able to lead UTC to one of its biggest turnarounds in conference play in school history.
"I could not have had two better seniors than Grace and Annie," explained Clark. "They went through a lot of tough things this spring. At different times they each were out with Mono, but they really were able to bring the team together and keep them focused on playing hard every match."
Green bounced back and go 2-1 in SoCon singles matches. The pair also won three doubles matches at No. 3 during the spring season.
"I was really happy for them to end their careers with the most successful season of their four years," continued Clark. "I really believe that your seniors will leave a mark on your program. It is either going to be a positive one or a negative one. The program is in much better shape at the end of their four years than it was when they came in. While they didn't play in as many matches as I would have liked, they were instrumental in our success. We would not have reached the goals that we had without their leadership."
NURIK REPEATS ON ALL-SOCON TEAM AND WINS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
Sophomore Jenna Nurik (Roswell, Ga.) led the team with an 18-14 singles record and was 13-9 at No. 1 in dual matches. She repeated on the All-SoCon squad, earning second team honors. She also was the sixth Lady Moc to win the SoCon Sportsmanship Award.
"Anytime you have a winning record at No. 1, that just boosts your whole team's confidence," added Clark. "For Jenna to get all-conference for the second year in a row and win the Sportsmanship Award is really the epitome of what I think is a student-athlete. To be recognized for her on-court achievements as well as her demeanor and sportsmanship is special."
FLYNN GRABS SOCON ALL-FRESHMAN HONORS
Alexa Flynn (Memphis, Tenn.) tied for team-high in singles wins with an 18-12 record. She held down the No. 2 spot for most of the year and was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team.
"This is the third year in a row we have had at least one recognized on the all freshman team," said Clark. "I think shows that we are getting players who can compete at a high level right away. Alexa was a huge part of our success this year. You look at the records and we have really struggled at the No. 2 spot the last couple of seasons. Overall, she strengthened our lineup that much more."
This is the third year the SoCon has named an All-Freshman team and only UTC and Furman have been represented each time. Shaina Singh and Emily Hangstefer were on the 2009 squad while Nurik was the 2010 SoCon Freshman of the Year.
LADY MOCS SEE IMPROVEMENT IN THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE LINEUP
UTC saw a marked improvement in the 4-6 positions in singles play. Juniors Shaina Singh (Vancouver, B.C.) and Charlotte Bossy (Koekelare, Belgium) both had career-highs in their dual match records. Bossy was 8-8 at No. 5 and posted 10 total wins on the year. Singh went 12-9, all at No. 4 while freshman Diana Zora (Barrancabermeja, Colombia) posted four wins in limited action at No. 6.
"We were better at the 4, 5 and 6 positions" stated Clark. "Charlotte had her best record of the three seasons she has been on the team. She played real solid at No. 5 and had some big conference wins at Georgia Southern and at Elon."
"I also have to mention Shaina," continued Clark. "She was 12-9 in dual matches, but more importantly she led the team with a 7-3 record in SoCon duals. If you can have that type of winning percentage in conference it gives your team a big boost."
Singh also clinched four matches during the spring. She closed out a 5-2 win against Jacksonville State with a 6-4 win in the third set. She also ended a 5-2 win at Elon with a 6-4 win in the third set. She also ended the Davidson and Appalachian State matches with two-set wins at No. 4.
SINGH-NURIK WAS A FORMIDABLE DOUBLES TEAM
Singh and Nurik split time between No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, posting a 20-8 record. They were 7-3 in SoCon matches and won their one doubles contest in the SoCon Tournament. At one point during the year, they had a seven-match winning streak.
"Shaina and Jenna were awesome in doubles," said Clark. "They were 15-6 in duals and 8-3 in conference matches when you include the tournament. They were 4-1 at No. 1 and 4-2 at No. 2. That is really good. By the end of the year they proved that they were not just a good doubles team, but a good No. 1 team. A year ago they were a good No. 2 team so it is nice to see that progression of improvement."
CHATTANOOGA HOSTED THE 2011 SOUTHERN CONFERENCE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga played host to the 2011 Southern Conference Tennis Championships at the prestigious Champions Club on April 20-23. Samford won the men's title while the College of Charleston took home the women's trophy.
This was the first time in 11 years the SoCon Tennis Tournament came to UTC and the first time at the Champions Club. Fans and participants were treated to one of the nicest public facilities in the country on the banks of the Tennessee River.
"I have said many times that I think Chattanooga is the best tennis city in the Southern Conference," commented Clark. "When you look at the tradition of UTC Tennis with our three national titles and you talk about the great players from the Chattanooga area like Roscoe Tanner, Zan Guerry and Susan Hill, it is important for the college tennis component to fit into that pedigree. It is important to host the SoCon Championships at a place like the Champions Club that was built to host such a tournament."
"We are really proud of the relationship we have with the Champions Club, which is run by one of the greatest UTC players of all time in Orlando Lourenco," concluded Clark. "It was a proud moment for our program to host at such a prestigious facility while representing our University. It shows that Chattanooga cares about our sport. The local tennis community came out and supported us, but also kept coming out to see the other teams because they love tennis. That sets us apart from the other places."
UTC only loses two seniors to graduation in Green and Robinette. The Lady Mocs return 88 of their 95 singles wins. That includes all six of their regular singles lineup from the end of the year.