Simon Thibodeau, who, in nine seasons, guided Fresno State to seven Western Athletic Conference championships, seven NCAA Tournaments and five appearances in the NCAA Round of 16, was named head women’s tennis coach at UC Santa Barbara on June 12, 2012.
A six-time WAC Coach of the Year, Thibodeau had a 159-80 record as the head coach of the Bulldogs. His teams finished five seasons ranked among the nation’s top-20, including an all-time high of 13th in 2004. In 2009, Fresno State won a school record 24 matches and finished the season ranked 16thin the nation. In all, Thibodeau’s teams won 20 or more dual matches on five occasions.
“I had a great journey at Fresno State, but I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity,” Thibodeau said. “This is a dream job for me. To coach in a place as beautiful as Santa Barbara and in a system as academic as the UC system, is perfect. I want to thank Mark (Massari) and UCSB for this tremendous opportunity.”
Individually, Thibodeau’s players also excelled. In his nine seasons at Fresno State, his teams produced seven WAC Players of the Year, one Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Rookie of the Year, five WAC Freshmen of the Year and nine All-Americans. Nationally, his players have regularly finished ranked in the nation’s top-100 and as high as No. 3. Thibodeau has coached numerous players into the NCAA Individual Championships and in 2004 one of his players, Jelena Pandzic, reached the title match. In 2006, the Bulldogs’ tandem of Lucia Sainz and Katarina Winterhalter reached the championship match in the doubles competition and in 2009 Anastasia Petukhova and Renata Kucerkova ended the season ranked No. 1 in the ITA doubles rankings.
Thibodeau’s Fresno State teams have not only excelled on the court, but in the classroom as well. The Bulldogs earned ITA All-Academic Team honors five times, achieving a collective grade point average over 3.2. In 2009, the team achieved a cumulative 3.60 grade point average, had five players named to the Academic All-WAC team and one to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District and All-American teams.
Before his time at Fresno State, Thibodeau spent three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Arizona where he helped steer the Wildcats into the ITA top-25.
A native of Repentigny, Quebec, Thibodeau received his bachelor’s degree in science/physical activity from the University of Sherbrooke in his native province. He was a coach with the Canadian Tennis Federation from 1997-2001, traveling extensively to tournaments and clinics. With the CTF, Thibodeau supervised national training camps, coached members of the national junior team and assisted with the Canadian Federation Cup team.