Simon Thibodeau was named the women’s tennis head coach for UC Santa Barbara June 12, 2012. Thibodeau comes to the Gauchos after heading the women’s tennis program at Fresno State for nine years where he accumulated six Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year awards.
“I had a great journey at Fresno State, but I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity,” Thibodeau said. “This is a dream job for me. To coach in a place as beautiful as Santa Barbara and in a system with academics as great as the UC system, is perfect. I want to thank Mark (Massari) and UCSB for this tremendous opportunity.”
Thibodeau has already gained seven WAC titles; nine All-Americans; seven individual national title appearances for players under his supervision; five appearances in the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament; the highest year-end ranking in program history and a winning percentage of seventy-five percent.
While at Fresno State, Thibodeau helped the bulldogs accumulate a winning record of 159-80. His teams finished five seasons ranked among the nation’s top-20, including an all-time high of 13th in 2004. In 2009, Fresno State won a school record 24 matches and finished the season ranked 16th in the nation. In all, Thibodeau’s teams won 20 or more dual matches on five occasions.
He also brought individual attention to his players in his nine seasons at Fresno State; Melanie Gloria gained four consecutive WAC Player of the year awards and a career high ITA ranking of no. 2 in the country. His teams overall produced seven WAC Players of the Year, one Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Rookie of the Year, five WAC Freshmen of the Year and nine All-Americans. Nationally, his players have regularly finished ranked in the nation’s top-100 and as high as No. 4 in singles and No. 1 in doubles.
Thibodeau has coached numerous players into the NCAA Individual Championships and in 2004 one of his players, Jelena Pandzic, reached the title match. In 2005, the Bulldogs’ tandem of Lucia Sainz and Katarina Winterhalter reached the championship match in the All-American doubles competition and in 2006 reached the championship NCAA doubles final. In 2006, Melanie Gloria appeared in the All-American singles championship as wall as the Indoors Semi finals. Melanie Gloria paired with Tinesta Rowe reaching the NCAA doubles championship in 2008. That same year, Anastasia Petukhova and Renata Kucerkova reached the NCAA doubles semi finals, the All-American final, and won the ITA Indoors doubles championship. In 2009 the doubles duo ended the season ranked No. 1 in the ITA doubles rankings as well as Petukhova winning the All-American singles consolation.
Thibodeau’s Fresno State teams have not only excelled on the court, but in the classroom as well. The Bulldogs earned ITA All-Academic Team honors five times, achieving a collective grade point average over 3.2. In 2009, the team achieved a cumulative 3.60 grade point average, had five players named to the Academic All-WAC team and one to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District and All-American teams.
Before becoming a bulldog, Thibodeau was the assistant coach for the University of Arizona women’s team for three years, steering the Wildcats into the ITA top-25.
Thibodeau, originally from Repentigny, Quebec, graduated from the University of Sherbrooke in 1997, where he received his bachelor’s in specialized sports science. There he worked under the Canadian Tennis Federation as a national coach for Canadian junior players, where he traveled around the world gaining an abundance of knowledge on the junior circuit. He supervised national training camps, coached members of the national junior team and assisted with the Canadian Federation Cup team.