Former All-American To Lead WVU Tennis

West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck fulfilled his promise to bring in a new leader for the women's tennis program that had high level experience as both a player and a coach.

With more than 20 years in the tennis arena as a player and coach at the national, collegiate and professional level, Tina Samara has been named West Virginia University's fifth women's tennis head coach.

"Tina is a great young coach who, as a former NCAA champion and All-American, knows how to compete at the highest level," Luck said. "She will bring great energy and enthusiasm to our program, and knows what it takes to win championships. We welcome her to West Virginia University, and I know she is ready to take our women's tennis program to the next level."

Samara joins the Mountaineer tennis program after spending the last two seasons as the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, where she guided the team to the semifinal round of the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Tournament. In her first recruiting class for the Ragin' Cajuns, Samara signed Louisiana-Lafayette's No. 1 singles player, one of two players to attain top-20 regional rankings in the Southern Region. According to the 2009-10 grade report, Samara's team recorded the highest grade point average of all sport programs at Louisiana-Lafayette.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to be at a university with such a successful athletic department," Samara said. "I look forward to working with Oliver Luck and believe he will help do great things with the program as he is very accomplished. The fact that he is a graduate of WVU will really show the passion he has for all of the athletic programs of his alma mater."

Prior to her stint at Louisiana-Lafayette, Samara spent two seasons (2007-08) as the assistant women's tennis coach at Colorado. In her first season at CU, the team finished 16-8 overall, the best record since 1999, and went 9-2 in the Big 12 for a share of third place. The Buffaloes closed out the season nationally-ranked No. 37, the highest ranking in eight years.

With more than 10 years of experience as a tennis pro, Samara competed on the USTA/WTA/LTA Pro tour and played three straight seasons representing Norway at the Federation Cup (1996-98).

Samara graduated from Georgia with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences. As a player with the Bulldog tennis program, Samara earned All-America honors in 1994 and 1995, and partnered up for a victory in the deciding match of the Bulldogs' first ever NCAA title in 1994. The pair finished the year ranked No. 1 in NCAA doubles in 1995 and went on to win the National Clay Court Doubles title in 1996. The team won the National Indoor title in 1994 and 1995. Samara was later listed in Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd."

She was crowned the 1993 Collegiate Grasscourt singles champion, was a member of Georgia's 1994 SEC title team and was a two-time national team indoor champion.

A native of Oyster Bay, N.Y., Samara is married to City Club tennis pro Brian Sullivan.

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