HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker College women's tennis team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Tom Simpson, will look to their balanced roster for a successful 2018 campaign. Simpson, who served as the Cobras head tennis coach from 2011 to 2014, takes over the program from his son, Bill. The father-son coaching swap is one of the most unique coaching changes in NCAA Division II history.
The Cobras present a nine-player roster, made up of five returners and four newcomers. "We have four strong seniors returning to the team this year," said Simpson. "We also added a few newcomers that will contribute this season. With the returners and the new players on our roster, I think we're going to have a strong team."
Jenna Gainey, Jennifer Mezei, Suzanna Mickey, Jennifer Ruetten, and Julia Sorrells are the veterans on this year's squad. Mezei and Ruetten highlight Coker's returners as both competed at No. 1 and No. 2 singles last season. Mezei earned a team-best seven singles victories last year and five in conference play, while Ruetten collected five singles victories with three in SAC action.
"It's exciting to be with all the seniors again," stated Simpson. "I recruited them, coached them for their first semester, and now I get to come back for their entire senior season."
The Cobras will begin their 2018 schedule on Feb. 3 when they compete against Erskine and Benedict in Sumter, S.C. Next, Coker will compete against non-conference foes USC Sumter (Feb. 4), USC Aiken (Feb. 9), Southern Wesleyan (Feb. 16), Johnson C. Smith (Feb. 17), and Francis Marion (Feb. 25) before heading into conference play. The Navy and Gold will open up South Atlantic Conference play on Mar. 10 when they host Tusculum. Other home matches against conference opponents include Wingate (Mar. 28), Mars Hill (Mar. 31), Catawba (Apr. 11), and Anderson (Apr. 14).
As mentioned, head coach of the Coker tennis program, Tom Simpson, returns to Coker after taking a three-year hiatus from the team and is looking forward to leading the Cobras once again.
"It was a very unique experience to step away from the team and head back into the program and see what Bill was able to do with the team," said Simpson. "I will hopefully add to some of the success Bill reached and finish this season strong with this group of student-athletes. I missed the coaching and being around the college game. I was definitely chomping at the bit to be a part of the program again."
Fans are encouraged to follow the 2018 Coker College women's tennis season at www.cokercobras.com.