Michael Sell, assistant coach of the United States men’s and women’s squad at the 2012 Olympic Games and former coach of the top American player in the world, John Isner, enters his ffifth season as the co-head coach of the LSU women's tennis team and seventh with the program.
Michael Sell, who served on the women’s tennis staff as a volunteer assistant coach for four seasons, joined his wife full-time in August 2015 to continue the program’s impressive upward momentum since Julia Sell was hired in 2012.
With Michael Sell as co-head coach, the LSU women’s tennis team reached impressive heights during the 2015-16 season. The duo hauled in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country according to tennisrecruiting.net and followed that up with three more consecutive seasons of top-10 recruiting classes.
To start the spring of 2016, the team advanced to the ITA Team Indoor Championships for the first time in school history. At the championships, the team defeated ninth-ranked Oklahoma State for the fifth top-10 win in the last 24 seasons.
The Tigers broke the record for the highest ranking in school history on three separate occasions during the 2016 season. Prior to 2016, the highest team ranking was No. 15, but LSU went on to reach rankings of No. 14, No. 13 and eventually into the top 10 at No. 9 to shatter the record.
LSU reached the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament hosted in Baton Rouge at the brand new tennis facility. The squad qualified for the NCAA Tournament and moved on to the second round. Joana Valle Costa was named to the All-SEC first team along with All-SEC freshman team selection Jessica Golovin. The two qualified for NCAA Singles Championships to become the first pair of teammates to reach the postseason event in the same season.
Under the direction of Sell, Valle Costa and Skylar Kuykendall became the 14th and 15th players in school history to reach the 30-win mark. It was only the fifth time in school history and the first time since the 1984-85 season that two teammates won 30 matches or more in a season. Abby Owens became the 16th player in school history to reach the 30-win mark the following season, the third player to do so under Sell.
In 2017, freshman Jade Lewis finished the season tied for the team lead with 16 dual singles victories on her way to SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, SEC All-Freshman Team, First Team All-SEC, Louisiana Freshman and Player of the Year, ITA Rookie of the Year and ITA Singles Al-American honors.
Lewis earned the highest-ranked win since 2008 and the highest-ranked win by a freshman in school history when she defeated No. 4 Astra Sharma in the Tigers’ SEC Tournament quarterfinal match against Vanderbilt. Valle Costa and Ryann Foster earned the highest-ranked doubles win of their careers by twice defeating the No. 7 pairing of Rutuja Bhosale and Rachel Pierson of Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Doubles Championships.
Lewis and Valle Costa, along with the doubles pairing of Valle Costa and Foster, marked the first time in program history that three players from the same team qualified for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships. Valle Costa and Foster tied with Megan Falcon’s 2007 NCAA Singles Championships semifinal appearance for the program record for the deepest postseason run in school history, advancing all the way to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships.
2017 also marked the first time in program history that three players from the same team earned All-American honors as Valle Costa and Lewis were named ITA Singles All-Americans and Valle Costa and Foster were named ITA Doubles All-Americans.
In the 2018 season, Sell continued to prove his excellence in both recruiting and developing young talent as freshmen phenom Eden Richardson had one of the most dominant debut seasons in program history, earning First Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman honors, ITA Rookie of the Year honors and Louisiana Player and Freshman of the Year honors, while recording the highest regular season winning percentage in the conference and competing in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
Richardson and doubles partner Jessica Golovin took home the title at the NCAA Doubles Championships for the first NCAA Championship in program history and picked up ITA Doubles All-American honors along the way, raising the total of All-American selections to six in just three seasons under the Sells.
Sell helped coach the 2018 team to its fifth-straight SEC Tournament quarterfinals appearance and fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, where the Tigers advanced to the second round in the three of the past five seasons.
The 2019 season was another successful season for Sell and the Tigers, going 17-12 and making it to the sixth consecutive SEC Tournament quarterfinals and a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. As a team, the Tigers ranked as high as No. 12 in the ITA/Oracle team rankings, and remained in the Top 25 for nine consecutive weeks.
Individually, Eden Richardson followed her historic freshman season by having a phenomenal sophomore year. Richardson earned multiple wins over ranked opponents, including a win over the ITA No. 1 player and eventual ITA Player of the Year, Katarina Jokic of Georgia. Richardson’s win over Jokic was only the second time in program history that a Tiger has beaten a No. 1-ranked player, and first since 2008. Richardson rose as high as No. 8 in the ITA singles rankings, becoming only the third Tiger in program history to reach the Top 10.
Richardson’s successful season saw her earn Singles All-American honors, taking the number of All-Americans coached under the Sells to seven, and the third consecutive season at least one Tiger has earned the national honor.
Michael Sell served as the Lead National coach for the U.S. Tennis Association Player Development coaching staff from January of 2003 until August of 2012. During that stretch, he coached a number of America's top young juniors, including 2015 Junior French Open Champion Tommy Paul and 2015 Junior Wimbledon Champion, Reilly Opelka while assisting professionals, including Serena Williams, Mardy Fish, and Donald Young.
Prior to his service at USTA, he served for two years as former World No. 1 Monica Seles' personal coach. Seles won five titles and reached three other finals under his tutelage.
Michael Sell played professionally on the ATP World Pro Tour for five years and reached career highs of No. 136 in singles and No. 83 in doubles. He won three singles and eleven doubles Challengers Events on the USTA Pro Circuit for 14 total titles and recorded wins over a number of Top 50 players. Sell was also named as a practice partner for the 1998 U.S. Davis Cup team.
Michael Sell was a four-year All-American in singles at the University of Georgia from 1992-95. He was ranked as highly as No. 6 in the nation at one point during his collegiate career. In 1994, he received the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.