Paige McMurray is beginning her seventh season as the head coach of the Tulsa women's tennis team.
McMurray is the school's winningest coach with a record of 93-53. She became the winningest coach in school history with a 5-2 victory over the Texas-Arlington on Feb. 24, 2002, by capturing her 53rd career victory.
Since McMurray took over the reigns of the women's tennis program prior to the 1998-99 season, the Golden Hurricane has won more matches over the last six years than any other six-year period in school history. She has posted winning records in each of her first six seasons. McMurray has coached five Central Region Championships, an All-American, six individual appearances in the NCAA Singles Championships, four ITA Academic All-America teams.
In six seasons, McMurray has changed the face of Hurricane women's tennis. The 2004 squad fell to Oklahoma, 4-1, in the first round. The 2004 edition of the women's tennis team finished with an overall record of 16-9, adding to McMurray's already impressive winning percentage at Tulsa. McMurray also sent current TU player Daniela Muscolino to the NCAA Singles Championships. Two of her teams have qualified for the NCAA Tennis Championships, in 2000 and 2004.
In 2002-03, McMurray led the Golden Hurricane to a 15-11 record, a final No. 49 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ranking and a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference. She also coached Alicia Pillay (2001-03) to a No. 36 final ITA ranking and to a Central Region Singles title. Pillay and Aleksandra Durska (1999-2003) represented Tulsa at the NCAA Singles Championships.
Pillay and Durska also earned WAC first-team singles and doubles honors, while freshman Daniela Muscolino (2002-P) earned second-team singles accolades, as all three student-athletes won 20 or more matches this season. Under the guidance of McMurray, Pillay was named the Regional ITA Senior Player of the Year and Durska earned the Regional ITA Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship.
Under McMurray's tutelage, four of the school's five winningest singles players have played within the last four seasons. TU's career singles and doubles leader, Durska, graduated in 2004, while Jennifer DeSpain (1997-2001), owns the second spot on the list. Two-time All-American Anousjka van Exel (1997-99), ranks third in singles and fifth in doubles wins.
On the regional level, Tulsa players have captured the Central Region's singles or doubles title four out of the last five years.
As a team, Tulsa completed the 1999-2000 season with a 21-6 overall mark, the best record and most wins ever for the TU women's tennis program, a second-place finish in the WAC and a first-place finish in the Central Region. The Hurricane completed the season ranked No. 25 nationally.
Although the Hurricane broke into the national polls for the first time during the 1996-97 campaign, Tulsa achieved the highest ranking in school history on April 5, 2000, when the Hurricane was ranked as the 23rd best team in the nation. TU ranked among the nation's top-50 teams for a majority of the 1999-2000 season and completed the regular season with a school-best 13-match win streak. McMurray led the Hurricane to a perfect 6-0 home mark and a record of 10-5 against nationally-ranked opponents that season.
McMurray reached her 30th career victory faster than any of the previous 10 coaches at TU. She posted a mark of 33-14 (.711) in her first two seasons.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment for McMurray and the Hurricane was landing the school's first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in 1999-2000. Tulsa not only received its first-ever bid, but was the host site for the first and second rounds. The Hurricane defeated No. 28 Minnesota in the first round before falling to No. 14 Northwestern in the round of 32. For all of Tulsa's accomplishments that season, McMurray was named the Central Region Coach of the Year.
One of the toughest jobs for any coach is finding a way to replace a star player. But for McMurray the task was even more difficult because the star player she lost was Tulsa's first All-American. Anousjka van Exel achieved All-America status in both years of her career (1997-98, 1998-99).
McMurray handled the task with the utmost zeal and confidence by recruiting not just one good player, but three solid players in 2001. Under McMurray, Durska became the most successful freshman in TU history. She recorded a 28-7 overall singles record and won 20 straight matches. Bianca Posada (1999-2001) captured 20 singles wins and the duo of Durska and Posada won better than 80 percent (18-4) of their doubles matches. Marjolein van Dongen (1999-2001) transferred to Tulsa prior to the 2000 spring campaign and promptly went out and posted a 13-9 record.
In 1998-99, her first season as a head coach, McMurray led TU to a 12-8 record, which was the best under a first-year coach. Tulsa registered a national ranking of 53rd and captured a first-round win at the 1999 WAC Championships.
Under McMurray's guidance, Tulsa has achieved more on and off the court in the last four years than ever before. Van Exel became the school's first two-time All-American when she reached the "Sweet 16" of the 1999 NCAA Singles Championships for the second straight year. Tulsa also captured the Central Region's singles (van Exel) and doubles crown (van Exel/DeSpain) for the first time ever. The duo also became the first doubles team to compete in the NCAA Championships.
In her initial season, Tulsa excelled in the classroom with six of its players named ITA Academic All-Americans, five players were tabbed to the all-WAC Academic squad and one, van Exel, became the program's first GTE Academic All-America first team selection. The team's grade-point-average was 3.63.
McMurray, 34, is no stranger to the Hurricane tennis program. Prior to her appointment as head coach, she served as the school's assistant women's tennis coach for two seasons. McMurray played an instrumental role in recruiting, which helped the Hurricane register 26 wins during her two seasons as an assistant coach. In 1998, she was named the Central Region's Assistant Coach of the Year.
In 1997-98, McMurray played an influential role in helping van Exel become the school's first All-American at the 1998 NCAA tournament and compile a single-season school record of 42 singles victories. The team also recorded a first round upset of No. 47 Utah at the 1998 WAC Championships.
During the 1996-97 campaign, her first season at Tulsa, the Hurricane recorded its first-ever national ranking at No. 74.
Before coming to Tulsa, McMurray spent two years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, San Diego State (1994-96), and the previous season at Louisiana State.
As a player at San Diego State, McMurray was named a top scholar-athlete and posted a career mark of 47-29. She earned a regional top-20 ranking while playing the majority of her career in the middle of the singles lineup. She was named San Diego State's Newcomer of the Year in 1990 after recording a 10-5 singles record. McMurray led the Aztecs to three conference titles, including one Big West and two WAC crowns.
A native of Tulsa, McMurray attended Bishop Kelley High School where she was the state singles champion in 1987 and 1988. She led the Comets to the 1987 state team title and a runner-up finish in 1988. McMurray earned her bachelor's degree from SDSU in liberal studies in 1993, and a master's degree from Azusa Pacific in athletic administration in 1995.
She currently serves as the chairman of the NCAA Central Regional Rankings Committee and is also the coordinator of "First Serve" for the city of Tulsa. The "First Serve" program, which is funded by the Southern Hills Charitable Foundation, Inc., was formed in 2002 to give free tennis instruction to inner-city and underprivileged children in the Tulsa community.
McMurray and her husband, Kurston, have two sons, Jake Patrick (5), and, Cooper Hammond (3). The couple resides in Tulsa.
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