Entering her 18th season as the head of the Clemson program, Nancy Harris is amongst the best to ever coach women’s tennis. The 2014 season was one to remember, as Harris earned her first ACC Coach of the Year honor, led the Tigers to a 22-7 record and a share of the ACC regular season title, upset the number-one team in the nation, and oversaw the team that led all Clemson programs with a 3.43 GPA.
Harris has been successful at leading both highly skilled individuals and elite teams. In her time at Clemson, Harris has coached 21 All-Americans, 32 All-ACC players, and top-ranked singles and doubles players in the nation. Collectively, her teams have made 13 straight NCAA Tournaments including ten Sweet 16 appearances. Furthermore, the 2004 and 2005 teams each made the Final Four. Overall, Harris has compiled a 490-205 overall record with two ACC Championships and 76 wins against top-25 opponents.
The 2013 season saw the Tigers continue their winning ways. Led by All-American Yana Koroleva and All-ACC performers Beatrice Gumulya and Liz Jeukeng, Clemson finished the season with a 16-8 record (9-2 ACC) and a berth in the Sweet 16. Clemson finished 13th in the national polls. In addition, the Tigers defeated six top-25 with their top victory coming in a 4-1 win at #6 Duke. Individually, Koroleva would advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals in singles play and was also named the ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Her resume reads like what's-what of collegiate tennis: The nation's number-one player and doubles team, two team final fours, ten NCAA Sweet 16s, and a former singles player to knock off the World's #1 player in the US Open. Additionally, her players constantly compete for national tournament titles, and former players have gone on to stellar pro careers.
Now immersed in one of the best runs of her career - or any career for that matter - Clemson has put together one of the most consistently excellent runs you'll come across in collegiate sports. Since the 2002 season, Harris' fifth, Clemson has won .708 percent of their matches, gone to the NCAA Tournament in every season, finished among the top-25 teams in the nation, and won 72 matches against top-25 competition.
Harris has now led Clemson to 14 NCAA Team Tournament appearances in her 16 years with the program. After compiling a 16-8 record in 2013, and reaching the Sweet 16, Harris' career ledger of 468-194 stands out. She boasts a 22-13 all-time NCAA record, and Clemson has won at least one match in the tournament every season since 2002.
She has coached eight singles players to 19 appearances at the NCAA Singles Championships and has led a Tiger doubles team to the national doubles tournament in eight consecutive from 2005-2012, including a runner-up finish in 2011. Seventeen of Harris' student-athletes have been named to the All-ACC team 28 times and seven Tiger singles players and five doubles teams have claimed conference flight championships during her tenure.
The 2010 season turned into another special campaign early on, as Clemson knocked off #4 Georgia on the road, and advanced against two tough ranked teams in the National Indoor Championships within the season's first two weeks. After blowing through ACC competition at 9-2, which included wins over #7 Duke, Clemson marched to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, before making an ninth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Clemson advanced to the Sweet 16, in part by again knocking off then-#19 Georgia in the NCAA second round, for the fourth straight season. The Tigers fell to the eventual national champion Stanford Cardinal, but the 24-6 final mark was one of the finest in team history.
Individually, Keri Wong, Josipa Bek, and Ina Hadziselimovic were named to the All-ACC team and Bek and Hadziselimovic were named All-Americans for the second straight season. Four Tigers finished the season in the final ITA rankings, and freshman Nelly Ciolkowski was named the ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the YEar after compiling a 29-7 record. It was just another spectacular season for Harris, who has made a habit of excellent performances.
Four players from the 2009 squad were named All-America giving Harris and Clemson the most of any nationally. The four honorees were also a program high and quite an accomplishment for a team with just eight members. In singles, the Tigers were the only team in the country to boast two players ranked in the top 15 during the regular season as Ani Mijacika remained a constant at the top of the polls and a stellar fall season quickly propelled Josipa Bek into the top 10. Both received bids to the NCAA Singles Championships and won their first-round matches. Bek reached the round of 16 in singles and advanced to the quarterfinals in the national doubles tournament with Ina Hadziselimovic to earn All-America status. Under Harris' guidance, Bek became the first freshman in school history to be named an All-American in singles and doubles.
Harris led Clemson to a third straight Sweet 16 appearance and the program's eighth consecutive NCAA tournament in 2009. The Tigers posted a 19-8 overall record and finished third in the ACC with a 9-2 record. They spent every week ranked in the top 15 and were ranked 11th in the final poll.
Harris coached Mijacika back into the number-one spot in the singles poll and she remained atop the rankings for six straight weeks. With Mijacika headlining the group at #4, four players were ranked in the final ITA singles rankings for the second straight season and just the third time in school history. Bek finished the year at #13 to give Harris and Clemson two players ranked in the top 15 for the first time ever. A pair of doubles teams also were also listed in the final rankings.
In 2008, the Tigers, seeded fourth, won their second conference title under Harris, knocking off the top two seeds in the tournament en route to the crown. Clemson's win over number-one seed and second-ranked Georgia Tech in the semifinals was the program's great upset in history.
Harris helped then-sophomore Ani Mijacika make individual history in 2008 as well. On Feb. 20, Mijacika became the first Clemson tennis player, man or woman, to rise to the #1 national ranking. She spent every week of the spring in the poll's top five and finished the season at #2.
The 2008 Clemson team completed one of the greatest turn-arounds in program history, rallying from a 5-9 record on Mar. 22 to win the final seven matches of the regular season and the ACC Championship. The Tigers earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive season and played host to their fifth straight regional, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth time in the last five years. Clemson was then ranked 13th in the final ITA Tennis poll.
Harris coached Mijacika and Carol Salge to All-America honors in doubles after the duo earned the fourth seed in the NCAA Doubles Championship and ranked fourth in the final poll. Both also received bids to the singles tournament and were two of four Tigers listed in the final singles rankings of 2008. Estefania Balda and Laurianne Henry helped the 2008 team become just the second in Clemson history to have more than three players ranked at the end of the year.
In 2007, Harris led Mijacika and Federica Van Adrichem to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships and a #4 final ranking. The duo's run in the national tournament was the best in program history; while the ranking was the highest a Clemson team had ever finished.
Harris coached Mijacika to one of the most successful rookie campaigns all-time in 2006-07. Mijacika became the first Tiger to be named the ACC Freshman-of-the-Year and was also the first to be chosen as the ITA Southeast Region Rookie Player-of-the-Year.
The 2007 squad went 10-1 in the ACC regular season to claim a share of the conference regular season championship and played host to their fourth consecutive NCAA regional. Harris led Clemson to a 22-5 overall record and the #11 final ranking. The team advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 for the third time in the last four years and made its mark on the school record books. The Tigers defeated seven teams ranked in the top-25 in 2007, second most in program history. The team spent nine straight polls listed in the top 10 in 2007 to set a program record for consecutive polls ranked among the top 10 in a single season and have been ranked in the top 25 in the last 23 polls.
Harris led Clemson to back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances in 2004 and 2005, becoming the only Clemson women's sports coach to reach consecutive Final Fours, and guided a 2006 Tiger team with just two upperclassmen to a 17-8 overall record and a #18 final ranking. Clemson played host to an NCAA regional for the third straight year in 2006, winning its opening round match before falling in the regional final. Harris coached Carol Salge and Van Adrichem to appearances at the NCAA singles tournament, while Van Adrichem claimed the Southeast Regional Championship title during the fall season.
In 2006 ACC action, Clemson recorded an 8-3 ledger to finish fourth in the regular season and reached the semifinals of the conference tournament for the third straight year.
The 2005 team finished the year with a 22-9 overall record and earned the #3 ITA ranking during the season, which marked the highest a Clemson team has been ranked nationally under Harris and in program history. Harris notched her 100th victory as head coach of the Tigers in 2005 and coached two players to All-America honors, the third national award winners in Harris' tenure. Julie Coin received her second All-America recognition in singles after advancing to the final eight of the NCAA Singles Tournament. She also finished the year ranked #2 in the country, the highest final singles ranking ever for a Clemson player. Harris also coached Coin and Alix Lacelarie to a #10 ranking in the final ITA doubles poll, which earned the Tiger duo All-American honors in doubles.
Harris' 2004 team is arguably the most successful in program history. She led the Tigers to the NCAA Final Four in 2004, which was the first time in Clemson athletics history that any women's team has reached an NCAA Final Four event. Clemson finished the 2004 season ranked fifth in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll, which is the highest final national ranking both under Harris and in program history. Harris reached several other milestones during the 2004 season, including leading the team to her first ACC Regular Season title and her first ACC Tournament Championship. The 2004 team's 26 wins are the most for the Tigers under Harris and tie for the third-best win total in program history. Harris coached her first All-American, Julie Coin, to a Final Four appearance at the NCAA Singles Tournament and also coached her first ACC Player of the Year (Coin) and ACC Tournament Most Valuable Performer (Alix Lacelarie) in 2004. Harris was named the ITA Southeast Region Coach of the Year for the 2003-04 season. The USTA of South Carolina also selected her as the 2004 Coach of the Year.
Harris coached Julie Coin, who shocked the tennis world with her upset of #1-ranked Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 US Open, to the ITA Southeast Region Singles Championship in 2002, while Coin and Maria Brito won the Southeast Region Doubles crown in 2003, becoming the first doubles team in Clemson history to claim that title.
In 1998, her first season at the helm of the program, Harris led the team to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In 1999, she guided then-freshman Carmina Giraldo to a 54th-place national ranking and an appearance in the NCAA Individual Singles Tournament. In 2000, the Tigers made their ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament after finishing third in the ACC. Clemson transposed its win-loss record from the 1998 season and finished the season ranked 28th with a 15-7 mark overall. In 2000, Giraldo earned a second berth in the NCAA Singles Tournament and a #28 final national ranking in singles. In 2002, Clemson reached the second round of the NCAA Championship, upsetting 16th-ranked William & Mary in the first round. Harris led the 2002 Tigers to a 14-11 overall record and a final national ranking of 34th. Alix Lacelarie advanced to the second round of the NCAA Singles Championship and Milena Stanoycheva won the ACC Flight Championship at number six singles. During the 2003 season, Harris led the Tigers to a 19-6 record, a final ITA ranking of 19th, a second-place ACC regular season finish and the team's second consecutive trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Academics have always been a priority for Harris, as evidenced by the success that her teams have enjoyed in the classroom in recent years. She has coached 11 ITA Scholar Athletes during her tenure at Clemson and the Tigers were named an ITA All-Academic Team in 2002 and 2003. Harris has also coached 27 athletes who have been named to the ACC Honor Roll, and Federica Van Adrichem was named to the inaugural ACC All-Academic team in 2006. Van Adrichem earned her second honor in 2007, while then-freshmen Estefania Balda and Ina Hadziselimovic were also selected to the 2007 ACC All-Academic Team. Balda was then a repeat honoree in 2008. In 2012, Yana Koroleva was named the ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year. The Tigers have consistently recorded a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better in Harris' years with the program.
Harris, who speaks Spanish fluently, has a long and impressive resume. She has participated in three Grand Slam events, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.
Prior to her time at Clemson, she was a head coach at Auburn University in Montgomery, AL for nine seasons, during which time she coached both the men's and women's teams for five years. She led the women's team to the national championship once and the men's team to the same honor twice. Harris is a five-time National Coach-of-the-Year Award recipient, having won the award in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997. In her nine years as the head women's coach at Auburn-Montgomery, Harris coached 36 All-Americans and four Academic All-Americans.
Harris competed professionally under the guidance of tennis great Pancho Segura from 1978 to 1982. She achieved a WTA world ranking of 226 before falling to injury. After leaving the tour, Harris returned to school to complete her degree and in 1984 she graduated cum laude with a degree in biology from Alabama.
From 1983-89 Harris served two local tennis clubs in Montgomery, Alabama, as Tennis Director and Head USPTA teaching professional.
The next challenge Harris chose to undertake was coaching at the collegiate level. Her first job was at Auburn University at Montgomery, where she served as the women's coach for nine seasons and the men's coach for five years. '"It was a lot of fun, but at the same time it was very challenging."
Harris took the challenge head on and had great success, leading both teams to national championships. The Auburn-Montgomery women's NAIA National Championship title in 1992 marked the first time a women's tennis team from the state of Alabama won a national championship. She also led the women's team to four national runner-up finishes (1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997).
Harris led the AUM men's tennis team to two NAIA National Championships (1995 and 1996), becoming the first female to coach a men's team to a national championship. She is currently the only female coach in the country who has led both a men's and women's team to a national championship.
Harris was attracted to Clemson for many reasons. She was especially impressed with the level of support Clemson offers the student athletes. Clemson established Vickery Hall in 1991 to assist student athletes academically. Due to their rigorous schedule of traveling and practice, time can be very limited.
"There is tremendous support for a student-athlete to have the opportunity to succeed. I really feel the student is well cared for here. A great example is Vickery Hall. I have never seen anything like it; it is truly unique. It offers our players every opportunity to move forward academically while maintaining a busy schedule. We are very fortunate to have this support for our student-athletes."
Harris is a coach who gives of her time freely and is completely devoted to her athletes. This is another reason she was drawn to Clemson. At Auburn University Montgomery, she was responsible for the coaching, academic counseling and administrative aspects of both tennis teams.
"I wanted to offer my players more," says Harris, "This includes more of my time on the tennis court and more time devoted to the student-athletes. They can play at a higher level if they are given more personal attention. Since I have been at Clemson, I have had more time to be on the court coaching the athletes and I enjoy that so much."
Harris has had a life filled with activity and success. "I feel whatever road you take in life, it is most important to give your best effort and to perform as well as you can. By giving your best you know exactly where you stand and can make good decisions about your future. That is what I always tried to do, whether as a student or as an athlete." To say the least, she has succeeded.
Harris is married to Jose Caban. Caban is the Chair of Clemson's School of Architecture.