As the nation's winningest active women's tennis coach, Jeff Wallace has built the Georgia Bulldogs in to one of the elite college programs that both wins and plays host to NCAA Championships. The 2013-14 season marked his 29th year with the Bulldogs.
In 2014, Wallace garnered ITA Regional Coach of the Year honors after the Bulldogs enjoyed another banner season, going 24-5 with a final ranking of No. 4. Georgia captured the SEC Tournament title, the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 overall seed for the first time in school history, advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals plus saw the top duo of Laren Herring and Maho Kowase reach the NCAA Doubles Final. Also, the program led the nation in attendance including drawing more than 600 fans to three matches during the season.
In 2013, Wallace became one of three coaches in women's tennis history to reach the 600-win plateau. He is one of five active collegiate tennis coaches with at least 600 wins, and is one of five UGA coaches to reach the mark. In 2009 following another memorable campaign when Georgia advanced to its 10th NCAA Final Four, Wallace became the first person to ever be named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Coach of the Year four times. The 2010 season featured Chelsey Gullickson winning the NCAA singles title at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The past three years, Georgia has finished the year ranked in the top eight after reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships.
During his tenure, Wallace's squads have claimed two NCAA championships, three USTA/ITA National Team Indoor titles, seven Southeastern Conference crowns and six SEC Tournament titles. A four-time National Coach of the Year recipient and four-time SEC Coach of the Year, Wallace's career record entering the 2015 season is 631-155. His .803 winning percentage is the best among active Division I coaches with a minimum of 500 victories.
Wallace's teams are the picture of consistency. With the 2014 NCAA bid, Georgia has appeared in 28 straight NCAA Tournaments and has advanced to the "Final Four" 10 times. Only once during his time as coach of the Bulldogs has the team missed the NCAA Tournament, and that was his first year back in 1986.
A 1985 graduate of the University of Georgia, Wallace capped his playing career under legendary Bulldog head coach Dan Magill in 1984 after winning the SEC singles title at the No. 6 spot. The very next season, his first as coach of the Bulldogs, Wallace led a struggling team up the path of respectability by posting a 20-9 mark and landing a spot in the final Volvo Tennis/ITCA Top 25 poll. In 1987, just two years removed from a losing record, Georgia advanced to the national championship match. Although they didn't win it that year, the Bulldogs would have their day.
The 1994 season ranks as one of the most dominant ever in women's tennis history. It found Georgia on the champion's pedestal in every major team tournament possible: NCAA Champions, USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Champions, and SEC regular season and tournament champions. Top that all off with a 27-2 overall record including a perfect 14-0 SEC mark and a season sweep of arch-rival Florida and it's easy to see why Wallace was named coach of the year.
The 2000 Bulldogs went 27-2, winning the Southeastern Conference title and the NCAA National Championship. In the title match on the campus of Pepperdine, Georgia dethroned the defending champion Stanford Cardinal 5-4, snapping a 48-match winning streak. Wallace was named the Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year.
USTA/ITA NationalTeam Indoors
Under Wallace, the Bulldogs have been among the most successful teams at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The annual event attracts the nation's finest programs. The Bulldogs have won the title three times (1994, 1995, 2002) and have reached at least the semifinals 15 times.
His record for developing players and having them maximize their potential has been evident throughout his tenure. In 2013, the Bulldogs won their ninth regular season SEC championship after going 24-4 and clinching its third consecutive 20-plus win season. The Bulldogs went undefeated at home (14-0) for the first time since 2009 and 12th time in program history. In 2001, Agata Cioroch arrived from Poland and played No. 5 for the Bulldogs as a freshman. Two years later, she became Georgia's top talent and in 2004 was the No. 1-ranked player in college tennis for much of the season. Cioroch concluded her career as a five-time All-American with two grand slam singles titles.
Strong doubles teams are a key component for a successful college tennis team. There have been six Bulldog tandems under Wallace to finish the season ranked No. 1.
In 2009, two of Georgia's top players were freshmen: Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist, and by the end of the year they had earned All-America honors. Gullickson was named the ITA National Rookie of the Year, advanced to the NCAA Singles semifinals and tied a school record with 69 combined wins. Gullickson and Gilchrist became the first freshmen in school history to play No. 1 doubles in the lineup.
In 2010, the pair earned All-America honors again and Gullickson became the second Bulldog to win an NCAA singles title in Athens under Wallace and the third overall in the history of the program. She would finish her career in 2012 as the school's first ever eight-time All-American and own the record for victories. Meanwhile, Lauren Herring became the fourth Bulldog under Wallace to be named SEC Freshman of the Year and the sophomore All-SEC tandem of Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell posted a school record of their own by going 22-0 at No. 3. Kowase concluded her career in 2014 with a school reccord 245 combined wins.
While the depth of talent can vary each season, the results remain consistent. This was no more evident than in 2002. Despite having only one player earn All-America honors, Georgia went undefeated during the regular season, won the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor title, the SEC championship and advanced to the NCAA "Final Four." The 2002 squad finished with a 26-2 record and final national ranking of No. 3. Georgia went 13-0 at home and extended its home winning streak to 50 straight.
Success in Wallace Era
In 25 of the past 29 seasons, Georgia has finished with a top 10 national ranking including No. 1 in 1994 and 2000. In the Wallace era, seven Bulldogs have won grand slam titles, two have won the Honda-Broderick Award/tennis, 29 Bulldogs have earned All-America honors 96 times, and 49 different Bulldogs have been listed on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
A native of Portland, Ore., Wallace is married to the former Sabina Marie Horne. They have two children, Brittany Sabina (25) and Jarryd Jeffrey (23). Brittany is a graduate of Valdosta State and working in Atlanta while Jarryd is training full-time as a sprinter for the U.S. Paralympic Team. Jarryd competed in the 2012 Paralympics in London.. In November of 2011, Jarryd, a world record holder, captured a gold medal in the 100m race at the Parapan American Games in Mexico as a member of the United States Paralympic Team.
Sabina, a former All-SEC distance runner at Georgia, was inducted into the North Bay (Ontario, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. She has continued to run competitively and has helped Wallace train for road races and marathons. Sabina is the track representative for Georgia's "G" club, an alumni association for University of Georgia letter-winners. Also, Wallace received the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Recreation and Leisure Studies department of the University of Georgia's College of Education.