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Since becoming the eighth head coach in Houston Tennis history on June 6, 2012, Patrick Sullivan has wasted little time in putting the program back on the national stage.
While Sullivan has proved to be one of the nation's top recruiters over the years, that success has also transferred into wins on the tennis courts, as Houston enjoyed one of its finest seasons in program history during the 2014 spring campaign.
Under Sullivan's leadership the Cougars (21-6) racked up their most wins since the 2006 season and fell just two wins shy of matching the school-best mark of 23 wins set back during the 1990 campaign. The 21 wins marked an eight-win improvement from Houston's 2013 season, which still stands as the largest win improvement any UH coach as ever posted from year one to year two.
In just his second year at the helm, Sullivan also guided the Cougars to just their third NCAA Tournament berth in program history, while picking up a school-record five ranked wins and 12 shutouts along the way. The postseason appearance was also the program's first since 1998.
As the wins racked up, the accolades also followed for Sullivan, as he coached Despoina Vogasari to the American Athletic Conference's first-ever Freshman of the Year award, while he also became the league's very first Coach of the Year recipient, after guiding the Cougars to their highest national ranking in school history back on March 4, as UH was placed at No. 21 in the nation, while eventually earning the top seed in the inaugural AAC Championship Tournament.
Houston also earned a school-record and league leading three athletes on the All-Conference First Team.
Sullivan's positive impact on the Houston program was felt right away, as in his first match at the helm, the Cougars cruised to their first win over a ranked opponent in five seasons, while also breaking into the national rankings for the first time since 2006. Sullivan also laid the groundwork for a bright future, signing the nation's No. 6 recruiting class for 2013 according to TennisRecruiting.net. The class ranked as the highest in Conference USA history and the second highest-ever among mid-major programs.
Sullivan came to Houston following two successful seasons as a first-time head coach at Stephen F. Austin. Sullivan took over the reins at Stephen F. Austin following a 9-11 season and led the Ladyjacks to the two greatest seasons in school history, compiling an overall record of 43-10 (.811), earning him Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors back in 2012.
"Patrick is one of the nation's top young talents who is well respected in the college tennis industry, and we feel he'll be an excellent fit within the Houston Athletics family," Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades said. "He has demonstrated the ability to take programs to new heights and is a dynamic recruiter who truly cares about his student-athletes. We are very excited to have Patrick, Caroline and Vera join our family."
The Ladyjacks set school records for both wins and winning percentage in Sullivan's inaugural season in 2010-11, going 20-5 overall while earning their first-ever team national ranking, first top-10 regional finish, first nationally ranked player and highest individual regional ranking.
Sullivan followed up his successful first season by signing the top-ranked recruiting class of 2011 among mid-major programs and the 23rd-highest class nationally, marking the first time that a Southland Conference recruiting class had been ranked among the nation's top 25. Sullivan's youthful 2012 squad, which featured four freshmen in the lineup, captured the school's first-ever Southland Conference regular-season and tournament titles en route to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. SFA finished the regular season tied for fourth nationally with 23 wins, setting a new program record for victories. Along the way, SFA rattled off a program-best 14-match win streak and had six players earn All-Southland Conference honors, including four First-Team selections. In addition to his players, Sullivan was tabbed the SLC Coach of the Year. The `Jacks were rewarded for their challenging 2012 slate, which saw wins over programs from the BIG EAST, Big 12, Conference USA, Pac 12, and SEC, as SFA climbed as high as No. 35 in the national rankings before closing out the regular season ranked 45th. Not only did the `Jacks find success on the court under Sullivan, they also excelled in the classroom, earning their second consecutive ITA All-Academic team honors for GPAs of 3.5 or higher following the 2010-11 season. Sullivan came to SFA after two separate stints at the University of Arkansas. He served as graduate assistant before moving to assistant coach for the Razorbacks from 2004-07 and returned as assistant coach for the 2009-10 campaign. While at Arkansas, Sullivan coached the Razorback's most decorated women's tennis player ever, Aurelija Miseviciute, who won an astounding 126 singles matches in her career, earned two All-America and three All-SEC honors, was a two-time ITA National Indoor Champion and was the nation's No. 1 ranked player in back-to-back years. In between his time in Fayetteville, Ark., Sullivan served as assistant coach at SMU from 2007-09 as the program reached unprecedented heights. Sullivan helped guide the Mustangs to an 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 including Marta Lesniak, who would eventually reach as high as No. 2 nationally in singles and become an All-American during her SMU career. At both SMU and Arkansas, Sullivan played an instrumental role in turning the programs from unranked to the top 25 in three years or less. Well known for his recruiting prowess, 18 players signed under Sullivan since 2004 have reached a national ranking in either singles or doubles. Sullivan, a Houston native, earned his bachelor's degree from Texas A&M and also obtained a law degree while serving as graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas. Sullivan and his wife Caroline recently welcomed their daughter, Vera, into the family.