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AKRON, Ohio – University of Akron women's tennis head coach Brandon Padgett has agreed to a two-year contract extension, which was recently approved by the University's Board of Trustees. Previously working under an annual contract, Padgett signed an agreement that runs through May 2014.
"Brandon has done an excellent job of elevating our program to a championship level, while also overseeing good academic achievement by his student-athletes," UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill said. "This contract is a reward for that progress and we are pleased to be able to make this commitment to him."
Now in his third season as coach of the Zips, Padgett led his squad to a Mid-American Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011 and 2012 – the first two in the history of the program. Over the last two years the UA tennis program has placed five student-athletes on the All-MAC Team and four on the MAC All-Tournament Team, including the event's MVP each of those seasons.
Additionally, Zara Harutyunyan was named the conference's player of the year in 2011 and Olga Shkundina was selected as the league's freshman of the year in 2012. Harutyunyan finished her career as the Zips' and MAC's all-time winningest player and was recently named to the University's list of top-10 female student-athletes as part of its celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Also in 2012, the team achieved a program-best Intercollegiate Tennis Association nationally ranking of No. 56. Akron posted a 24-4 record (7-1 MAC) in 2011-12 after going 20-5 (7-1 MAC) in 2010-11.
Padgett's squad has performed off the court as well, earning the ITA's All-Academic Team Award in 2010-11 and placing three student-athletes on the ITA Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in 2010-11 and two more in 2011-12. Three Zips have been chosen as Academic All-MAC during his tenure.
"I am extremely thankful to the University leadership for the commitment that has been made to Zips Athletics and the tennis program," Padgett said. "We have set our sights on winning a third MAC championship, and have been working hard to recruit players who will help take our program to the next level. Northeast Ohio provides a great tennis community, and we are excited to be a part of it."
Under Padgett, the Zips have faced an increasingly competitive non-conference schedule and met it head-on with victories over Big Ten foes Michigan State and Penn State as well as SEC member Kentucky and Big East opponents Cincinnati and Louisville. In spring 2013, the team has matches against seven opponents that were nationally ranked at the end of last season, including playing host to Oregon from the Pac-12, Missouri out of the SEC and Penn State. The Zips will also participate in the prestigious ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Jan. 26-27 and will travel to Los Angeles, one of 16 regional sites for the event, to compete against host school Southern California, Tulane and UC Irvine. Those programs each ended last season nationally ranked, with USC finishing the season at No. 4.
The Zips open the spring schedule at home against Middle Tennessee State on Jan. 18. MAC competition starts on March 22 at home versus Northern Illinois.