Terri Sisk, the architect behind the rebuilding and resurgence of the Tulane women's tennis program, enters her sixth season as the head coach of the Green Wave in 2013-2014.
In 2007, Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson began his search for a head women's tennis coach to restart the program. He was looking for an inspirational leader, a builder of character and a skillful tactician who could take a team from ground zero and make it an immediate contender. His search ended at Sisk's doorstep and she has proven to be the perfect fit for the Green Wave program.
In four short years, Sisk, the 2012 Louisiana Coach of the Year, has gone from scouring the country for her first player to the cusp of competing for a Conference USA title and becoming a fixture in the national rankings. Over the last four seasons, Tulane has posted four winning seasons with a combined 56-38 overall record and a 14-8 regular-season mark against Conference USA opponents.
Along the way, four Green Wave student-athletes have either earned All C-USA and All-Louisiana honors a combined 15 occasions. Recently departed senior Mariam Kurdadze completed her career as a four-time All-Conference USA selection, a three-time All-Louisiana performer and was the C-USA and Louisiana Freshman of the Year in 2009 and the Louisiana Player of the Year as a senior in 2012. She completed her career with 91 singles victories and 79 doubles victories under Sisk's tutelage.
Rising senior Emma Levy is a three-time selection to the All C-USA second team and has been named to the All-Louisiana squad in all three seasons.
In addition to the effort on the court, Sisk's Tulane teams have been equally as impressive in the classroom as members of the Green Wave teams have earned C-USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll recognition 30 times and four different players have garnered C-USA Academic Medal honors for sporting a GPA of 3.75 or higher. Sisk's team has consistently rated in the Top 10 percent of all Division I women's tennis programs in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rates (APR).
A tireless recruiter, Sisk's inaugural class was rated the No. 25 recruiting class in the nation by the Tennis Recruiting Network and the 2009-10 rookies earned the No. 7 spot in TRN's list of mid-major programs. Sisk's class of 2012-13 rated as the No. 2 mid-major recruiting class by TRN.
The Green Wave turned the corner in 2011-12 with a 19-6 overall record, a season-best national ranking of No. 52 and the squad advanced within one match of playing for the C-USA Championship. The Wave's 19 victories are the most wins for the team since the 2004-05 campaign and Tulane was rated among the top programs in the country for the final 15 weeks of the season.
The Wave was 3-1 against Louisiana schools and advanced to the Conference USA Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2005. TU also strung together a season-best six straight wins on two different occasions during the spring. Sisk claimed her 50th career win at Tulane with a 5-1 win over Lamar on March 30, 2012.
Tulane concluded its best season in seven years ranked No. 58 in the final national poll and was No. 4 in the final Southern Region. TU was one of four Conference USA schools ranked in the final poll and the Wave recorded victories over three teams in the national rankings, including Penn State (51), Ohio State (59), College of Charleston (63).
Four Green Wave singles players found their names among the top-20 players in the Southern Region, including senior Mariam Kurdadze (7) and the junior trio of Emma Levy (14), Caroline Magnusson (17) and Caroline Thornton (20). TU's top doubles teams were also among the region's best. The No. 1 duo of Kurdadze and Levy are ranked No. 7, while the No. 2 tandem of Magnusson and Thornton are No. 8.
Sisk's 2010-11 squad faced one of the toughest schedules in school history, but the team was up to the task and finished with a 12-11 overall record and a mark of 7-2 against Southern Region rivals. Tulane completed the season by winning four of its last five contests and advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2011 C-USA Championships.
Despite being limited by injuries late in the season, Kurdadze ranked eighth in the region, while Levy was No. 18 in the final rankings. In doubles action, Kurdadze and Levy was the third ranked tandem in the region.
In 2009-10 , Tulane improved to 13-9 overall, 4-2 in C-USA action, earned the No. 6 seed in the 2010 league championship tournament and earned a 4-0 postseason win over UAB on April 22, 2010. The Green Wave set a new standard during its second year back by winning five straight matches from March 22-April 22, including the C-USA Tournament win over the Blazers.
The Green Wave opened the spring season ranked sixth in the Southern Region and made its first appearance in the national rankings on March 16, 2010, when Tulane was listed at No. 67. In addition, Kurdadze was tabbed the No. 10 singles player in the Region, Levy was No. 16, and the pair joined forces to end the season as the No. 9 doubles team in the Southern Region at the end of the year.
Upon accepting her current position on July 11, 2007, Sisk inherited a storied program but one that suspended operations in Fall 2005 and lay dormant for almost three years. Sisk spent the 2007-08 season putting together
Taking the court for the first time since Fall 2005, the 2008-09 Tulane team featured eight true freshman and opened the inaugural season under Sisk's tutelage with a 7-0 win over Alabama State on Jan. 16, 2008, in Montgomery, Ala. The victory was one of four wins over the first five dual matches of the Green Wave's re-start season, and Tulane concluded the year 12-12 overall and 3-4 in league play. Sisk's first Tulane team earned the No. 10 seed in the C-USA Championship, had a season-best four-match winning streak from Feb. 27-March 8 and also enjoyed a three-match streak from Jan. 22-25.
Prior to taking on the task of rebuilding Tulane's women's tennis program, Sisk spent the previous five seasons as the head women's tennis coach at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. With the Bulldogs, Sisk led the program to three Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Championships - two tournament titles (2004, 2006) and one regular-season crown (2007) - and a pair of NCAA Regional Tournament appearances (2004, 2006). The team's trip to the NCAAs in 2004 marked the first time in program history the Bulldogs advanced to the postseason and Samford finished one win shy of Sisk's third NCAA berth after finishing as runners-up in the 2007 OVC Tournament.
She led the Bulldogs to a combined 69-37 record (.651), including a 20-2 OVC mark during her final two seasons in Birmingham. In 2007, Samford was a perfect 10-0 in league play during the regular season and Sisk was named OVC Coach of the Year. She helped six student-athletes earn All-OVC honors on seven occasions, including two-time all-conference honoree Sarah McKey (All-Atlantic Sun in 2004, All-OVC in 2006). In addition, she helped Katie McMiller and Emily White claim first-team All-OVC honors in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
A standout player in her own right, Sisk starred at Jacksonville (Ala.) State, where lettered three years for the Gamecocks and earned All-Gulf South Conference honors in 1991. A serious skiing accident after her junior season interrupted her academic and athletic careers, but Sisk returned to the University in 1995 and completed her degree two years later.
In her final season as a student-athlete at Jacksonville State, Sisk was ranked nationally in both singles and double action and helped lead the Gamecocks to a GSC Championship. In 2003, Jacksonville State awarded Sisk the prestigious HPER Alumni of the Year Award for outstanding professional achievement in tennis.
Following graduation, Sisk began her professional career as a tennis professional at Van Der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) in 1998 where she worked in various aspects of daily operations for a tennis facility under the direction of Dennis Van Der Meer. She taught private lessons and group clinics, organized tournaments and social events for members, directed corporate tournaments for Delta Airlines and ran practices and drills for world class players.
From there, she became the tennis pro as Brook Highland Racquet Club (Birmingham, Ala.) in 2000 where she was responsible for numerous tennis programs and special events. Among her responsibilities were teaching private lessons and team clinics, organizing all club events and junior tournaments, and coordinating United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Interclub leagues.
Following a one-year stint at Brook Highland, Sisk served as the director of tennis at Sportsfirst Greystone (Birmingham, Ala.) and was responsible for all operational and management of the private tennis club. At Sportsfirst Greystone, she worked with member programs, USTA and softcourt leagues, supervised court and facility maintenance, and served as internal and external public relations personnel through special events, socials, junior programs and tournaments.
A native of Talladega, Ala., Sisk completed her bachelor's degree in recreation administration and physical education from Jacksonville State in 1997, and is U.S. Professional Tennis Registry Certified.