After serving three years as an assistant coach, Roger White, a two-time conference coach of the year, is now in his sixth season at the helm for the Rice women's tennis program, having taken the reins in June 2001.
White guided the Owls to a historic first in 2006 as Rice won the Conference USA championship as the No. 7 seed. The triumph marked the first time in their storied history for the Owls to claim a league title. Rice defeated the top three seeds in the tournament on the way to claiming the crown and C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA championship. Senior Blair DiSesa was named the C-USA player of the year and received Rice's first NCAA singles bid in 20 years. The Owls' Alanna Rodgers was also honored for her stellar play in Dallas, receiving "Outstanding Singles Player of the C-USA Championship" recognition from the league coaches. Joining DiSesa in receiving all-conference honors were Christine Dao (second team), Medeja Egic (second team), and Tiffany Lee (third team).
In 2005, White guided the Owls to their most wins in eight seasons at 16-9 as Rice advanced to the Western Athletic Conference finals for the first time and finished ranked 51st nationally. The season was highlighted by upsets of 23rd-ranked LSU and 52nd-ranked Maryland. DiSesa received first-team all-WAC singles honors for the second-straight year, while Tracie Chong (singles & doubles) and Kimberley Patenaude (doubles) were named to the second team.
The 2004 spring season saw the Owls open with four consecutive wins, including a 5-2 upset at 40th-ranked Minnesota. But the young team had a tough challenge ahead, facing another 15 ranked foes, including five in the top 20. At the end of the long road, DiSesa earned first-team all-WAC singles honors. Lauren Archer was named to the singles second team, while Chong and Karen Chao earned all-WAC second team doubles recognition.
The fall of 2003 saw White's pupils put together one of the Owls' best showings at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships when Archer, Chong and DiSesa all advanced to the quarterfinals of the singles draw. Rice was the only program to have three players still playing among the final eight.
In spring 2003, White ran his charges through a demanding schedule, playing ranked opponents 14 times, including taking on the two-time defending national champion, Stanford, in Palo Alto, Calif. The young Owls were recognized for their efforts as Archer was named the WAC freshman of the year as well as receiving first-team all-conference honors in singles. DiSesa was named to the second team in singles and doubles, with Archer.
In 2001, his first fall at the helm was highlighted by the stellar performances of Jeri Gonzales and Yasmin Fisher at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships. The duo blasted through their opponents in the early going, advancing to the finals. Heading into the dual-match season, White quickly proved that he was willing to take on anyone, anywhere when his Owls faced fourth-ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., in their season opener. The same day, Rice took on 25th-ranked South Alabama for the first of seven doubleheaders during the year.
White's teams have also continued the long-standing tradition of academic excellence. The Owls have been honored by the ITA the past three years with all-Academic team status, while 21 players have received 16 ITA Scholar-Athlete awards.
White was named the Owls' assistant coach in 1998 and quickly helped Rice to a 15-6 record and its fourth consecutive NCAA regional bid. In the fall of 1999, the Owls qualified both a singles player and a doubles team for the Clay Court National Championships, a program first. In White's three years as assistant coach, the Rice women produced a 39-28 record and earned ITA team academic all-America honors each year.
Prior to joining the Owls, White was the assistant head tennis professional at the Houston Country Club after holding the position of director of tennis at Atascocita Country Club (1989-96). He began his career as head teaching professional at Kingwood Country Club in 1986, and in 1988 moved to Walden Golf and Country Club, where he served as director of tennis and racquet sports for two years.
White earned all-America honors as a collegian at Abilene Christian for the 1986 season, in which he was ranked as high as second in doubles and 23rd in singles nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association.
A native of Miami, Okla., White lives in Houston with his wife, Suzanne, who played tennis for Trinity University in 1986-90. The couple have two children, Christopher (3) and Laura (1).
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