Sport Summary - Tennis
Two dominant dynasties highlight the past 25 years of Big Ten women's tennis. Combined, Indiana and Northwestern have captured 23 of the 25 conference championships, with the Hoosiers winning nine-straight titles in the 1980s and 90s, while Northwestern claimed its eighth-consecutive crown in 2006. With exception of Wisconsin's victory in 1996, followed by Michigan's in 1997, Indiana and Northwestern have ruled the Big Ten tennis scene every year.
Indiana's nine-consecutive conference championships from 1987-95 is the second-longest win streak in the history of Big Ten women's athletics, second only to the 12 titles by Michigan swimming from 1987-98. A man who has been responsible for it all has been Hoosier head coach Lin Loring, the nation's winningest coach in women's collegiate tennis. Loring, who has spent 30 years in Bloomington after taking over as coach in 1976, has guided his Hoosiers to a conference-record 18 NCAA Championship appearances. He has amassed over 300 Big Ten wins and is closing in on 700 overall wins, both of which are conference and national records. Perhaps the most impressive and applauded statistic on Loring's resume is that in 30 years, each IU student-athlete who has used up their eligibility (at Indiana) has a college degree and was never academically ineligible even for one semester. Six Hoosiers have earned All-Big Ten honors in each of the four years of their career under Loring. Reka Monoki (1985-88) was the first Hoosier to accomplish the feat, followed by Kelly Mulvihill (1986-89), Candy Kopetzki (1987-90), Stephanie Reece (1989-92), Deb Edelman (1990-93) and Jody Yin (1991-94). Mulvihill (co-1988, 1989), Edelman (1990, co-1992) and Reece (1991, co-1992) were all two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year award winners, while Yin was given the honor in 1994.
With a win in 2007, the Northwestern tennis program would tie Indiana's mark for the longest win-streak in Big Ten tennis history. The Wildcats have won the past eight championships and currently hold 10 conference titles in their possession, three shy of the leading Hoosiers. In addition to making 16 NCAA Championship appearances, including the last 11 years, NU has produced the Big Ten's lone NCAA doubles champions in Katrina Adams and Diane Donnelly in 1997 and Cristelle Grier and Alexis Prousis just this past season in 2006. Head coach Claire Pollard, a three-time conference Coach of the Year, has guided her Wildcats to an impressive mark of 89-6 (.937) during the streak of eight-straight Big Ten championships. Under Pollard's direction, several Wildcats have garnered postseason honors, including Grier, who was not only the 2003 Freshman of the Year, but is the only tennis standout to have ever won three Athlete of the Year awards (2003-04-06). In 2005, Audra Cohen earned both Freshman and Athlete of the Year honors, marking just the third time (1990-Edelman, IND; 2003-Grier, NU) in Big Ten tennis history that a student-athlete was given both awards in the same season.
In addition to the success of Indiana and Northwestern over the past quarter-century, other notable standouts have gained postseason recognition by the conference. Joining the list of two-time Athlete of the Year winners are Michigan's Sarah Cyganiak (1995, 1997), who was also the 1994 Freshman of the Year, and Ohio State's Kristy Dascoli (2000-01), the Big Ten's top freshman in 1998. Both Cyganiak (1994-97) and Dascoli (1998-2001) can be found among the standouts listed above for four-time All-Big Ten selections. In addition, Illinois' Jennifer McGaffigan (2001-04), Iowa's Laura Dvorak (1992-95) and Toni Neykova (1999-2002), Michigan's Michelle DaCosta (2002-05), Minnesota's Nora Sauska (1997-2000), Purdue's Erica Adams (1988-91) and Wisconsin's Elaine Demetroulis (1988-91), Marija Neubauer (1991-94) and Barbara Urbanska (1996-99) have all accomplished the feat as well.
Former Wisconsin head coach Kelly Ferguson, who coached the Badgers for 13 years, leads all conference mentors with four Big Ten Coach of the Year awards. Joining Pollard and Loring with three awards is Michigan's Betsy Ritt, who was honored in 1988, 1994 and 1997.