Courtney Vernon was appointed head coach of the FGCU women’s tennis program by Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh on Monday, Sept. 16.
Vernon brings a wealth of experience to SWFL, having served as an assistant coach for the past three years at the collegiate level and as a player both professionally and collegiately. Most recently, Vernon served as the assistant women’s tennis coach for her alma mater, USF, since July 2012.
“I am very grateful to Ken Kavanagh for allowing me to be a part of the FGCU Athletics family,” Vernon said. “The opportunities at the school are limitless. I am looking forward to embracing the process of mentoring and building a culture of committed, determined women who want to succeed on the court, in the classroom, in the community and in all other aspects of their lives.”
She inherits a program which only lost one senior and posted its most successful season since making the transition to Division I in 2007. The Eagles won a record 11 matches in 2012-13 – marking the second consecutive season of double-digit victories – en route to earning another berth in the Atlantic Sun Championship. Vernon replaces Jen Gabou, who stepped away from her position in July following five years at the helm of the program.
During her coaching tenure at USF, the Bulls finished as the Big East runner-up last year, losing to top-seeded Notre Dame in the tournament final. Among several responsibilities, Vernon oversaw the academic progress of all players, and in part to her dedicated efforts the women’s tennis team finished with the highest GPA of all teams at USF.
Prior to her time at USF, Vernon spent two years as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Colgate University from 2010-12. While at the central New York school, she recruited and coached Patriot League Rookie of the Year Luke Gensburg, directed the first-ever Nike Tennis Camp and organized free tennis clinics for the Hamilton community. Maintaining her philosophy of succeeding on the court and in the classroom, Vernon was part of an Athletic Department at Colgate that had the No. 1 Graduation Rate in college athletics.
Vernon’s academic success at both Colgate and USF is a perfect fit for FGCU. In the Spring 2013 semester, the women’s tennis team earned a record-breaking 3.78 cumulative GPA, the best-ever team GPA mark for an Eagles’ program.
“We are very excited to have Courtney and her proven talents and high-energy personality joining our Eagles Athletics staff,” Kavanagh said. “A quality individual, she brings to FGCU a tremendous combination of playing and coaching experience. In turn, we look forward to her working with our outstanding group of young ladies to build upon an already solid foundation in our continued pursuit of the upper echelon of the A-Sun Conference and beyond.”
As a player with the Bulls, Vernon served as the team captain and No. 1 and 2 player for USF during the 2006-07 season in which she went a perfect 23-0 and qualified for the NCAA singles championship. Entering the year she was listed by the International Tennis Association (ITA) as the South Region’s “Player to Watch,” and lived up to that distinction by earning a singles ITA Collegiate Ranking as high as No. 38.
Vernon turned pro in 2007 (forfeiting her collegiate eligibility) and had her best two finishes in top International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments, reaching the singles quarterfinals at Evansville, Ind., and St. Joseph, Mo., and making it to the semifinal round of both events in doubles action. She also competed in Pro Circuit tournaments in Japan, Mexico and Australia. Vernon’s highest Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles ranking was No. 638, while her highest doubles WTA ranking was No. 811.
In 2008-09 during her final year at USF, Vernon served as an undergraduate assistant tennis coach. She went on to earn her a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology in June 2009. From 2009-10, Vernon held a coaching and administrative assistant role at TennisLMS – a training center for professional Kelly Jones where she coached select high school, collegiate and pre-professional players.
Growing up outside Cleveland in Solon, Ohio, Vernon was ranked among the best young tennis players in the region and nation. In 2003 she was the No. 4-ranked singles player 18 and Under in the Midwest, and also the No. 13 ranked singles player in the same demographic nationally. Furthermore, she was one half of a doubles pairing which was ranked the third-best team in the nation 18 and Under.
What They’re Saying About Courtney
“Courtney is very organized, an extremely hard worker and a loyal person. She has the determination to be a great head coach, and I know that she will do a tremendous job. In addition to being coached by extremely talented tennis players, she’s also an unbelievable athlete and I’m exceptionally happy for this wonderful opportunity for her.”
-Augustine Moreno, USF Head Women’s Tennis Coach
“Courtney’s tireless hard work, knowledge of the game and great personality made a great difference with our men’s and women’s tennis teams and our athletic department. There is no doubt she will have the same positive effect with the Eagles’ women’s tennis program.”
-Vicky Chun, Colgate University Director of Athletics