Tom Morris, East Carolina’s all-time winningest women’s tennis coach, enters his 11th season heading the Lady Pirates’ program.
During his first seven years at ECU, Morris headed both the men’s and women’s teams and has now compiled an overall 217-161 record during his long and successful tenure in Greenville.
He has guided the women’s program alone to 149 victories and successful seasons in nine of his 10 years at East Carolina, which recently includes the top four single-season win totals in school history – a 17-9 mark in 2005, back-to-back school-record 19-9 and 19-10 finishes in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and a 17-6 ledger in 2008.
Morris also led his men’s squads to .500 finishes or better in four of the last six years before hiring Shawn Heinchon to take over the Pirates’ fortunes in the summer of 2005.
After helping his Lady Pirates match a program-best by racking up 19 victories in 29 matches during the 2007 campaign, despite guiding a squad that didn’t feature a single senior on its roster, Morris followed up with a 17-6 season in 2008 that ended with another appearance in quarterfinal round of the Conference USA Championship Tournament. In addition, ECU raced out to a 10-0 start last spring to earn its first Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national ranking in program history.
In 2006, Morris directed the East Carolina women to a record-breaking 19-9 mark before advancing to the quarterfinal round of C-USA Championship Tournament. A year earlier, he guided the Lady Pirates to a then-standard 17-9 mark and a seventh-place C-USA finish.
During the 2003 season, the Lady Pirates’ second year of competition in Conference USA, East Carolina matched a then-school record for most wins in a season by going 16-8. Seeded ninth heading into the league tournament, ECU won three of four matches to finish in a tie for fifth place. The lone loss came to top-seeded Tulane.
Following the 2003 women’s tournament, Morris was awarded the Conference USA Sportsmanship Award.
In 2002, the 12th-seeded Lady Pirates defeated Charlotte, then stunned second-seeded DePaul before bowing out to South Florida. ECU’s women finished the 2002 campaign with a 12-11 record and, including a regular season victory over Charlotte, won three of its five head-to-head meetings with C-USA opponents.
Morris, who will enter the 2008 season with an overall coaching record of 392-263, came to East Carolina from Barton College (formerly Atlantic Christian College), where he directed the tennis program as head coach from 1990 to 1998 after a stellar playing career there.
In Morris’ tenure at Barton, he guided his men’s teams to six conference championships while his women’s squads won four league titles. He was named Carolinas Conference Coach of the Year four times and earned NAIA District 26 Coach-of-the-Year honors once. Following the 1997 season, Morris was tabbed as the NCAA Men’s East Regional Coach of the Year, making him one of four finalists for the NCAA Division II National Coach-of-the-Year award.
At Barton, Morris coached eight All-America selections and eight conference players-of-the-year.
As an undergraduate, Morris was Atlantic Christian’s flight one singles player in each of his four years and earned All-America recognition twice. As a senior in 1979, he helped Atlantic Christian reach the NAIA National Championship. He advanced to the singles round of 32 his freshman year, the semifinals as a sophomore, the round of 16 as a junior, and the quarterfinals as a senior. His 105 career singles victories still rank as the Barton school record. In addition, he compiled a career mark of 17-4 in singles at the national tournament.
Morris’ wife, Carol, is a former standout tennis player at the University of South Carolina and had several top 10 wins while playing on the women’s professional tour. The couple has three children—daughter Chris (16) and sons Jack (14) and Al (10).