Gauchos find new tennis leader in Thibodeau

In a press conference this morning, UCSB introduced Simon Thibodeau, former Fresno state coach and six-time WAC Coach of the Year, as the new head coach for the women?s tennis team.

With past experience as a national coach in Canada, assistant coach at the University of Arizona, nine years at Fresno state with seven WAC conference titles and five appearances in the Sweet 16, the Gauchos look forward to what he will bring to the program.

Simon Thibodeau, right, holds a UCSB t-shirt with Athletic Director Mark Massari on Tuesday.

After a tough season this year for women?s tennis with Charlotte Scatliffe, former UCSB tennis player, stepping up in January as Interim Head Coach in place of Pete Kirkwood, Thibodeau looks to rebuild the program and plans recruit strong players in the future.

?You have the whole package I think now with the academic side covered I think you can recruit the best Californian, the best American and the best player in the world. So there?s no limit if the community?s very excited and very involved and we can do some good fund raising, I can do better than what I did at Fresno State.?

The first year will be tough with the loss of two of the team?s stronger players, but Thibodeau believes UCSB holds more opportunities for him as a coach.

“I consider myself one of the better coaches in the nation so I think a program like this is just a blessing. I’m very honored,? Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau says his short-term goals will be to win Big West each year. He looks to have players make the NCAA?s and compete in the individuals, while also keeping the Sweet 16 as a goal.

Recently elected team captain Erica Cano had the opportunity to speak to Thibodeau and another candidate for the position before he was chosen.

?I thought that he would be a really great fit here and I think he?s going to take this program really seriously. Not only does he have great experience as a head coach, he?s personable and he wants to be here at Santa Barbara, which I thought was really important.?

Sophomore April Scatliffe had good things to say as well.

?I definitely think he?s going to bring a new level of intensity that I’m actually looking forward to,? Scatliffe said.

All the Gauchos welcomed the new coach at the morning press conference.

UCSB?s Athletic Director Mark Massari spoke highly of him, noting his great career so far and emphasizing the academic achievements of his past teams as very important to the Gauchos.

?He?s very demanding on the court and he?s as equally as caring off the court and that?s very important to us,? Massari said.

Thibodeau has had five teams given Academic All-American status for the whole team having a 3.2 or higher and also had the highest GPA of all the Fresno state teams.

Next year, Charlotte Scatliffe will continue working with the team under Thibodeau as the assistant coach. The athletes look forward to her continuing to work with them after helping them through this season.