SKILLMAN, N.J. (SMU) — After leading her team to a school-record third straight NCAA Tournament bid and setting the SMU record for career wins (103) and winning percentage (.786, 103-28), women’s tennis head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner has been named the ITA Texas Region Coach of the Year. Junior Marta Lesniak, ranked No. 9 in the latest ITA singles rankings, was also selected as the ITA Texas Region Player to Watch. The honor goes to a non-senior who has an outstanding season and is expected to perform at a high level the rest of her career while demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship and character.
The No. 32 Mustangs (21-5) play at No. 31 Texas A&M in the NCAA first round on Saturday. Meisner is leading the Mustangs to the program’s 11th NCAA Tournament appearance. The 2009 and 2010 NCAA appearances (the team advanced to the second round each time) were the first consecutive bids for the program since 1987 and 1988. She also coached the squad to the 2009 Conference USA Championship and an appearance in the 2011 C-USA Tournament final. In all of her seasons at the helm, at least three Mustangs have earned All-C-USA honors. The 2011 season marked the third consecutive season with at least four all-league selections. The team recorded five honorees in 2010. Along with her duties as head coach, Meisner serves at the C-USA women’s tennis coaches chairperson, a two-year position she was voted into by her fellow C-USA coaching peers. In 2008, she was she was selected by the ITA to serve a three-year term on the Southwest/Texas Regional Committee.
Lesniak earned her second straight C-USA Player of the Year honor in 2011 and her third straight selection to the All-Conference USA First Team. She was also named C-USA Singles Player of the Championship, an honor she also took home in 2009. Lesniak is 41-5 on the season, including a 23-2 mark in dual matches at No. 1 singles. Her 41 wins this season rank second at SMU (45 by Stephanie Fess 1981-82) and her 84 career wins are fifth at SMU. Lesniak is also second at SMU in career winning percentage (.866, 84-13) and along with her teammate Aleksandra Malyarchikova, rank first all-time in career doubles victories with 52. In the fall, the native of Poland made the singles finals at the ITA Regional and won the consolation bracket of the 2010 ITA National Indoor Championships. She has been named C-USA Player of the Week nine times in her career and C-USA Player of the Month four times, sweeping all three awards in the fall of 2010. Lesniak was named the ITA Southwest Rookie of the Year in 2009.
The ITA national award winners will be announced on May 24.