Youngstown State Coach Michele Grim, who is in her 10th season at the helm of the Penguins, continues to gradually build the women's tennis program into a contender for the Horizon League crown.
In 2004-05, the Penguins advanced to a conference tournament final for the first time in school history. YSU, which finished second in the Horizon League regular season, became the first school other than Butler and UIC since 2001 to advance to the championship match. In the tournament the Penguins cruised past UW-Green Bay in the quarterfinals before beating Butler on its home court in the semis. YSU lost to nine-time defending champion UIC in the finals.
The Penguins finished the year with a 14-10 overall mark and Grim was named the league's Co-Coach of the Year after guiding her squad to a 6-1 Horizon League regular-season mark. Two of her players -- Karen Najbert and Whitney Thomas -- were named to the all-league team. Najbert was a first-team selection while Thomas was named to the second team for the third consecutive season.
Grim has had a successful tenure as the Penguins' head coach with eight winning seasons in her nine campaigns. She owns a career mark of 104-75 for a winning percentage of .581.
In 2003-04, YSU continued its climb up the league latter placing third at the league meet. Thomas was a second-team all-league selection as the Penguins finished the year 15-12, including two wins at the postseason event. Youngstown State beat Wright State in the opening round before losing to UIC in the semifinals. The Penguins beat Cleveland State to finish third.
In 2002-03, the Penguins finished with an overall record of 8-13 and 2-5 in the Horizon League. Grim also guided Thomas, then a freshman, to earn second-team all-league honors while YSU placed fifth at the league tournament. After dropping their quarterfinal match to Wright State, the Penguins rebounded with wins over UW-Milwaukee and Detroit in the postseason tournament.
For the 2001-02 season, Youngstown State finished with an overall record of 11-10 and was 4-3 in their first year of competition in the Horizon League. At the league tournament, YSU beat UW-Green Bay in the quarterfinals before losing to UIC in the semifinals. The Penguins lost to Wright State in the third-place match to place fourth.
During the 2000-01 season, YSU's final year in the Mid-Continent Conference, the Penguins finished fourth at the conference championships after dropping both of their matches in the tournament. On the year, Youngstown State finished with an 15-7 dual record -- including a 7-0 fall mark -- while posting a 5-3 conference record. Abby Vens was named second-team all-conference during the campaign and was named to a league team all four years.
Grim, who coached the men's team from 1997-98 through 1999-2000, stepped aside from her dual coaching duties to focus solely on the women's program in October 2000.
In 1999-2000, the women’s team finished with a 12-8 overall record and earned a fourth-place finish at the Mid-Con meet. In the regular season, the Penguins were 5-3 in conference play. YSU beat Oakland in the tournament's first round before losing to Oral Roberts and Southern Utah to place fourth. Vens was again named second-team all-conference.
In 1998-99, Grim led the Penguins to a third-place finish at the conference meet on the women's side, while Vens was named first-team all-conference and Marci Russ and Mary Hall earned second-team all-conference honors. YSU posted a 16-6 dual record for the year. At the league tournament, the Penguins, who were 5-2 and the third seed following the regular season, lost to No. 2 Western Illinois before beating IUPUI to finish third.
Grim's first year in charge of the women's program saw the Penguins finish with a 13-9 overall mark in 1997-98. At the league meet, YSU defeated Southern Utah in the quarterfinals before losing to Western Illinois in the semis. In the consolation final, the Penguins beat UMKC to place third. As a freshman, Vens was named second-team all-conference.
Prior to joining the Penguin staff in August 1997, Grim served as the assistant women’s tennis coach at Florida State during the 1995-96 season.
During her playing career at Tennessee, Grim was voted Academic All-Southeastern Conference in 1993 and was named co-captain during the 1992-93 season. Grim also ranked as high as 14th in NCAA Division I Collegiate Tennis in 1989.
For her career, she won 85 singles matches and 55 doubles matches. The Lady Vols made three NCAA Tournament appearances in her four years placing ninth in both 1990 and 1992. The 1991-92 squad finished with a 20-9 overall record and finished third in the SEC while the 1989-90 team was 19-8. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Tennessee in 1994.
Michele and her husband, Rob, reside in East Palestine, Ohio. She is also the head tennis professional at the Boardman Swim and Tennis Club and tennis professional at the Boardman Tennis Center.