Terri Sisk, the architect behind the rebuilding and resurgence of the Tulane women's tennis program, enters her eighth season as the head coach of the Green Wave in 2015-16. The Olive and Blue are fresh off of their debut year in the American Athletic Conference where they posted the biggest turnaround season out of any top-75 program, recording a +12 win differential with a 17-9 record.
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 the last seven years, Sisk has gone from scouring the country for her first player to becoming a fixture in the national rankings. In her time at the helm, Tulane has posted five winning campaigns with a combined 90-54 overall record. In 2012, Sisk was named the Louisiana Coach of the Year.
Along the way, seven Green Wave student-athletes have earned All-Conference and All-Louisiana honors on a combined 20 occasions. One of Sisk's first recruits, Mariam Kurdadze, completed her career as a four-time All-Conference USA and 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. Just this past season, freshman Naz Karagoz earned one of the coveted spots on The American's All-Conference team after posting a 10-7 dual record.
In addition to the effort on the court, Sisk's Tulane teams have been equally as impressive in the classroom. 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). In 2014, Klara Vyskocilova, Jacqui Katz and Meredith Maltby were named ITA Scholars, while the 2013-14 squad picked up the ITA Academic Award with a combined GPA of 3.453.
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. More notably, Sisk's 2014 recruiting class was ranked 23rd in the country by tennisrecruiting.net, the highest ranked class in program history.
As mentioned above, the 2015 dual season witnessed a program on the rise. The Green Wave finished the year ranked 62nd in the nation, but was ranked as high as 47th at the beginning of April, which was Sisk's second highest ranking at Tulane. The Wave were awarded a No. 2 seed in their firsts American Conference Tournament, ultimately reaching the semifinals. The roster featured six newcomers, including four freshman, and the squad posted a 17-9 record after taking on a 2015 schedule that featured 12 ranked opponents.
The 2013-14 season, the final in Conference USA, was highlighted by the career year of Klara Vyskocilova, who went undefeated in the regular dual season (13-0) for the first time since the program relaunched in 2008-09. The senior was named Conference USA Player of the Year and Louisiana Player of the Year, was selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship, and finished the season ranked 58th in the country in singles. Academically, Vyskocilova was tabbed with C-USA All Academic Team honors along with earning the prestigious Tulane 34 award.
Tulane's 2012-13 squad was not only nationally ranked the entire season, but broke into the nation's elite standing with a season-best No. 38 ranking and concluded the year ranked 50th nationally and fourth among Southern Region teams following a 17-7 overall record. The Green Wave finished 4-1 against C-USA teams, 5-1 against regional competition and was 8-1 on its home courts. TU won 14 of its final 17 matches that included a win over No. 38 Georgia State and No. 40 Ohio State and a runner-up finish at the prestigious Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic.
Individually, several Green Wave players were recognized as well. Junior Klara Vyskocilova received a final singles national ranking of No. 70 and rated as the fifth-best player in the Southern Region, while senior Emma Levy ranked No. 18 among the region's top singles standouts. In the region's doubles Top-10, Vyskocilova and freshman Ipek Birol came in at No. 7, while the senior duo of Caroline Magnusson and Caroline Thornton was No. 9.
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 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 a team 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.