After a dream season in which the women’s tennis team finished fourth at the D-III Championships, head coach Marty Perry was named the 2009 Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Coach of the Year for D-III women’s tennis last Saturday.
This season, Perry guided the Maroons to a 17–6 record, a third-place finish at the UAA Championships, and a fourth place-finish at D-III Championships after a tough 5–4 loss to top-seeded Amherst in the semifinals. During his six-year tenure at Chicago, Perry has produced six female All-Americans, three during the 2008–2009 campaign, and has led the women’s teams to a combined record of 76–51 (.598).
First-year Jennifer Kung attributed much of the Maroons’ success this season to Perry’s coaching. “He’s sacrificed a lot of his time to work with the team; he keeps the team focused,” she said.
One of Perry’s strengths is his ability to recruit, a talent which allowed for the monumental gains the Maroons made this season compared to their last, when the team failed to qualify for Nationals. Kung noted how Perry put intense effort into his recruiting class, including personal visits to many of his recruits, something many other coaches did not do.
“He was the only coach who showed that much interest…that meant a lot to me,” Kung said.
Perry’s strong recruiting classes have made a substantial impact on the Maroons: Of the seven Chicago players named to All-UAA teams, six were either first- or second-years, including first-year Kendra Higgins, who won both the UAA Rookie of the Year and UAA Conference MVP awards.
“It was a season to remember, I’ll never forget it,” Perry said. “The girls are very professional; they played hard and believed they could win whenever they stepped on the court. I know I’m proud of what they accomplished.”
But this season was almost derailed before it even began, when Perry announced late last season that he was planning to move to the program at D-I Richmond.
“A lot had to do with family decisions,” Perry said about his initial decision to leave. “It was tough to leave; I helped build the program, was attached to the kids.”
After Perry had announced his intention to move to Richmond in order to be closer to relatives, the Perry family had a change of heart and decided to stay in Chicago, where Perry was eagerly welcomed back by the Maroons.
“I was a little surprised,” fourth-year team captain Vindya Dayananda said, “and sad to see him go. [When Perry decided to stay] I was thrilled; he’s my coach and also my friend.”
The rest is history for the Maroons, as they went to post one of the best seasons in Chicago’s history.
“I’m glad I stayed to be around and see all the hard work the players put in to finish top four in the country,” Perry said. “It solidifies my reason for staying.”
Although Perry and the Maroons have accomplished much this season, the young squad is not content to rest on their laurels.
“We’re not done, we want to stay on top and win our first team championship,” Perry said. “We still haven’t won the conference championship; we’ve got nothing but upward possibility.”