July 27, 2006
Former UCLA All-American Elizabeth Schmidt – who spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Rice University – has been hired as an assistant coach for the University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team, it was announced this week by Irish head coach Jay Louderback. Schmidt – who helped the Owls to one of their best seasons in program history in 2005-06 – replaces Michelle Dasso, who was hired last month as the new head coach at the University of Illinois.
“I am very excited to be able to hire someone with Elizabeth’s experience to be our assistant coach,” said Louderback. “She was a great college player who also went on to play professionally for awhile, and then she spent two years as an assistant for a top team in Rice and had a lot of success there. We are very glad to have her join our program.”
“I am thrilled to join such an elite program,” said Schmidt. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with Jay. I have known him for a long time, and he is one of the most-respected coaches in the country. I am excited to help to continue on the tradition of great accomplishments at Notre Dame.”
Schmidt was instrumental in the Owls turning in a historic season in 2005-06, as Rice reeled off three consecutive upsets to win the Conference USA tournament for the Owls’ first-ever league championship. Rice became the first No. 7 seed ever to reach the title match of the C-USA tournament and knocked off top-seeded Southern Methodist, ending the Mustangs’ 12-match winning streak. That earned Rice its first trip to the NCAA Championship since 1998, and the Owls finished 13-13 overall and ranked 66th in the nation (after peaking at 51st). Schmidt’s first season at Rice saw the Owls go 16-9 – posting the most wins for Rice since 1997 – and crack the national top 30 before reaching the Western Athletic Conference tournament final for the first time ever and finishing ranked 51st.
Rice had several individual standouts during Schmidt’s time there – with four players earning all-conference accolades last season – but none more so than the recently-graduated Blair DiSesa, who was the Conference USA Player of the Year and an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in her final campaign, as well as the first Rice player since 1986 to earn an invitation to the NCAA Singles Championship. She was ranked as high as 31st in the nation last spring.
Schmidt was a standout player at UCLA, earning All-America accolades in doubles in 1996-97 and finishing that season ranked 16th in the nation in partnered play and 38th in singles. She was a two-time participant in the NCAA Singles Championship and an all-Pac-10 selection in ’97. Schmidt helped the Bruins to a pair of second-place finishes in the Pac-10 – matching the best results in program history – and trips to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in 1997 and 2000.
Three times a Pac-10 All-Academic honoree, she graduated with honors in 2000 with a degree in sociology. She was the 2000 women’s recipient of the Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship, awarded annually to the league’s top male and female student-athletes. Schmidt was twice honored with the ITA’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and won the regional Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award in 1999. She also is on the verge of completion of a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston.
Schmidt spent the next four years playing professionally, peaking at 137th in the WTA world doubles rankings (in 2003) and 380th in singles (in ’02). She earned her only career title in the doubles draw of the ITF event in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2001, but also reached six other finals in doubles and advanced to the doubles semifinals a total of 23 times in her career. In 2003, she played in the doubles qualifying at The Championships Wimbledon.
Born Aug. 23, 1977, Schmidt is a native of Austin, Texas, and 1996 graduate of Westlake High School. She was a three-time state singles champion and a Prince All-American during her prep career, helping Westlake to the 1992 team state title. She compiled high school records of 120-6 in singles and 62-4 in doubles and was as high as seventh in doubles and 26th in singles in the USTA national rankings.