May 1, 2014
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--- It was a monumental day for the University of Houston Tennis program, as head coach Patrick Sullivan was named the American Athletic Conference's first-ever Coach of the Year, while Despoina Vogasari was awarded the league's very first Freshman of the Year award, the conference office announced on Thursday.
Both Sullivan and Vogasari become just the second recipients of their respective awards in program history, as former UH great Stina Mosvold was awarded Conference USA Coach of the Year back in 1998 and Lelia Salek was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year back in 2007.
Vogasari also joins junior Elena Kordolaimi, and fellow freshman teammate Tina Rupert on the 12-player All-Conference Team, which equals USF for the most nominations in the league. This also marks the first time Houston has had three or more players named to a conference first-team.
“This group has been extremely dedicated all year long and I’m so happy that their hard work has paid off,” said Sullivan. “These three girls are very deserving and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
“With our first NCAA Tournament match right around the corner and our entire year-end starting lineup returning next year, the best is still yet to come for Houston Tennis.”
“There are a lot of great coaches in our league and I am humbled that my peers thought to choose me for the award. Truly, the real credit should go to my assistant coaches, Stephanie Wooten and Daniel Whitehead. They are undoubtedly two of the best in the country"
“A special thanks also goes to our strength coach Kiara Pulliam. Some of our girls came in last August miles away from where they needed to be physically and through a combination of their sacrifice and Kiara’s leadership, this team’s strength and conditioning has improved dramatically."
Sullivan has led the Cougars (21-5) to their most wins since 2006. The 21 wins are already eight more than Houston had all of last season, while the Cougars are just two victories shy of equaling the school-best mark of 23 wins set back during the 1990 campaign.
In just his second year at the helm, Sullivan has 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 will be the program's first since 1998.
Sullivan has also hauled in back-to-back top-25 recruiting classes in each of his first two seasons at Houston.
Vogasari has had a year to remember for the Cougars, as she's piled up an overall record of 25-7 and a dual match mark of 21-4 up to this point, while she's also notched a team-leading four wins over ranked individuals on the year.
Vogasari's 21 dual match wins are tied for the most freshman dual match victories in program history, while she's currently tied for fifth on the school's all-time single-season dual match wins list. If the season ended today, her .840 win percentage would rank seventh on the school's all-time single-season dual match win percentage list.
The Athens, Greece native clinched four matches for the Cougars this season, went 5-1 against conference competition, and has won eight of her last 10 matches, while she also became the first Cougar to eclipse the 20-win mark in over six seasons. Her 12 dual match doubles victories also rank tied for 10th on the school's all-time single-season doubles list.
The freshman took home a league-leading three American Athletic Conference Player of the Week awards and is currently ranked as the 86th singles player in the nation. She's been nationally ranked for eight straight weeks.
For the second straight season Kordolaimi finds her name on an all-conference team, as she qualified for Conference USA's All-Second Team a year ago.
The Lamia, Greece native has posted a 19-5 overall record this season, while she's gone 11-4 in dual action this spring. She is also currently placed ninth on Houston's all-time single-season dual match wins list, as she owns a dominating 18-8 record in spring doubles action.
The junior has shown up in big moments for the Cougars this season, as she's clinched both of Houston's highest ranked wins on the year in No. 17 Tulsa and No. 31 DePaul, as both ended up being one point UH victories.
Kordolaimi managed to garner two conference Player of the Week honors this season, while she's currently won a team-best nine straight matches and has taken 20 of her last 23 sets overall.
Rupert has made a big splash in her first year with the Cougars, as she's racked up an overall record of 23-7 and an 18-4 mark during dual play. Both marks rank second on the team.
The freshman has won nine of her last 10 matches and has clinched seven of Houston's last 16 victories, while she leads the team with eight match clinchers overall on the season. If the season were to end today, her .818 win percentage would rank ninth on the school's all-time single-season win percentage list. She also went 4-1 against league competition this season.
The Cougars get back to work on May 9, when they take on Texas, at 11 a.m. CT, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in College Station, Texas.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Loreto Alonso-Martinez, Sr., USF
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Despoina Vogasari, Houston
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Patrick Sullivan, Houston
Elena Kordolaimi, Jr., Houston*
Tina Rupert, Fr., Houston
Despoina Vogasari, Fr., Houston*
Julia Fellerhoff, Sr., Louisville
Rebecca Shine, Sr., Louisville
Marta Morgan, Fr., Memphis
Anki Wind, Fr., Memphis
Vanessa Petrini, Sr., Rutgers
Loreto Alonso-Martinez, Sr., USF *
Olaya Garrido-Rivas, Fr., USF*
Kayla Rizzolo, Sr., USF
Dasha Sharapova, Fr., SMU