In only her third season with the Knights, Stephanie Nickitas continues to build a program through recruiting, and challenging her team by competing against quality opponents. In 2008-09, the Knights faced seven ranked foes and welcomed three top-15 teams to the UCF Tennis Complex.
Coaching in her second year at UCF, Nickitas led the Knights to a 12-10 mark battling a difficult schedule. The doubles pair of Jenny Frisell and Elvira Serrot was slotted together by Nickitas on Feb. 13 against Georgia Southern and quickly rose in the national ranks all the way to No. 27 after defeating the No. 11 and No. 33 ranked teams from Duke and NC State, respectively.
Under the guidance of Nickitas, Katie Orletsky, a transfer from Arizona, anchored the No. 6 slot for the Knights posting a 12-5 record and capturing the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year. The honor was the first specialty award handed to a UCF women’s tennis player, since joining C-USA in 2005.
In her first year at the helm of the Knights, Nickitas guided the squad to a 12-9 record and a 57.8 singles winning percentage in 2007-08. But more impressively, UCF dominated on the doubles courts by going 60-30 for a 66.7 clip. By comparison, the 2006-07 Knights held a 60.0 winning percentage in doubles play.
Meanwhile, four student-athletes on the 2008-09 roster were selected to the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll. Among those Knights were Jenny Frisell and Elvira Serrot, who were voted onto the All-C-USA Second Team as a doubles tandem. Frisell as a sophomore was additionally recognized by the coaches as a singles player on the All-C-USA Second Team.
Combined with Nickitas’ first season, the Knights have had eleven selections to the prestigious honor roll. Three singles players and a doubles team were chosen for the conference second and third teams under the watch of Nickitas.
And the leader of the Knights also has received plenty of other praise as well. Nickitas was elected as a regional representative on the 2009-11 ITA Operating Committee, and her incoming recruiting class for 2009-10 was ranked as the fourth-best mid-major class in the nation by TennisRecruiting.net. That was the highest of any C-USA program.
Nickitas was a standout player at Florida from 1996-99, earning All-America recognition six times for the Gators. She went on to be selected for The 1999 NCAA Top VIII Award, which honors the most-deserving eight student-athletes from across the country in all sports for their athletic, academic and leadership achievements.
A member of the Gators' 1996 and 1998 NCAA national championship squads, Nickitas won 128 singles matches during her career and earned All-Southeastern Conference First Team honors all four years. She won four collegiate Grand Slam titles as well, while that 1996 squad was ranked seventh of the Top 25 Gator Teams released in 2009.
Nickitas also was the 1996 and 1997 NCAA Doubles champion with Dawn Buth, becoming the first duo in Division I history to claim back-to-back titles. She currently ranks first in single-season doubles winning percentage (41-1, 97.6 percent), and second all-time at UF with a career mark of 89.5 percent (128-15).
Prior coming to Orlando, Nickitas spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Duke University and three at Harvard University.
With Nickitas on the staff, Duke advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships in 2007. A year ago, the Blue Devils finished the season ranked ninth nationally and went 20-8 overall and 9-1 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
Before working at Duke, Nickitas spent three years as an assistant at Harvard. In her three campaigns with the Crimson, Nickitas helped the Crimson claim three Ivy League championships. Harvard made two appearances in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and went undefeated in Ivy League play during Nickitas' tenure.
Following the 2005 season, Nickitas was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association East Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Nickitas is a native of Tampa and earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida in 1999, and is pursuing her master's degree at UCF. She received GTE Academic All-America honors in 1998 and was awarded with the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship following her senior campaign.