Trish Riddell has been Florida Southern’s head women’s tennis coach for the last 13 years (2006-18), during which time she’s taken the Moccasins to 10 NCAA Tournaments, had them nationally ranked every year, produced five different individual All-Americans, and the school’s only SSC Player-of-the-Year in women’s tennis (Senka Softic in 2008 and 2009). Along the way, Riddell has put together a career record of 187-110 for a .630 winning percentage, taking the Mocs as deep as they’ve ever been during NCAA postseason play, and tied the school record for wins in a season.
On the school’s all-time wins list for women’s tennis coaches, Riddell ranks second only to Ed Jeffries, who won 248 matches in his 19-year career from 1981-99. She’s also third among all 12 coaches who have led either the men’s or women’s programs at the college. Only Jeffries and Jim Bush, who coached both teams at different times from 1957-85 and won 346 matches, are ahead of her. Her winning percentage is also third best in school history when looking at both tennis teams. Riddell earned the 100th win of her career on February 27, 2012, against Eckerd.
Since beginning her duties at Florida Southern on August 1, 2005, Riddell has posted eight seasons with at least 15 wins, and her 2007 squad went 21-5 to tie the school record for most matches won in a season. It was their first 20-win season in 16 years, and it included a 6-2 mark in the Sunshine State Conference and a 13-5 mark against nationally ranked opponents. Two of those wins came in the regional tournament, the first ever won by the Moccasins, and their 5-3 win over #10 Nova Southeastern sent them to the NCAA Division II National Finals for the first time since 1991. Once there, Florida Southern knocked off #19 Northwood (MI) to reach the quarterfinals before falling to top-ranked and eventual national champion BYU-Hawaii. The fifth-place finish equaled the best ever for Florida Southern at the Division II Finals, and their final ITA ranking of #8 was the highest in team history. The Mocs did all of that with a starting lineup that featured three freshmen, all of whom won at least 19 singles matches and 14 doubles matches.
Florida Southern also reached the regional finals in 2008 but was again derailed by another team that went on to reach the national championship match at Lynn University. That year also saw the Moccasins go 17-7 with a 5-4 win over #5 West Florida during the regular season. It was the highest ranked opponent Florida Southern had ever beaten and it was part of the Mocs’ first undefeated season at home since 1972. Overall that year, the Mocs played 15 nationally ranked opponents, lost only two matches to teams outside the top-10 (#13 Nova and #14 Barry), and avenged one of those losses by then defeating Nova in the first round of the NCAA South Region Tournament.
In 2009, Riddell and the Moccasins had a nearly identical record at 16-7 while going 6-2 in conference play for the second time in three seasons. This time it gave them a second-place finish in the Sunshine State Conference, their best since the league adopted a full round-robin schedule in 2004.
The Mocs then had another 6-2 record in conference play in 2010, which included a 5-4 win over 9th-ranked Rollins that marked their fourth win over a different top-10 team in four years. That season remains one of the best turned in by Riddell in her coaching career, as the Moccasins had just six players, but still went 17-5 overall, finished third in the SSC regular season standings, and ended the year ranked #14 in the ITA national poll. Of the six players on the roster, three were named to the All-Sunshine State Conference Team, including two freshmen.
Another of Riddell’s top performances came in 2012 when the Moccasins shook off a 3-7 start by going 7-2 over the remainder of the regular season and picking up four wins over ranked teams. Splitting two more matches against top-25 opponents in the SSC Tournament, the Mocs completed their recovery by qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year under Riddell and nearly pulled off a major upset in the regional before falling to #9 West Florida, 5-3.
Proving it was no fluke, Riddell and the Moccasins pulled off the same kind of turn-around in 2013 when they opened up 2-5 before reeling off 13 consecutive wins, their longest winning streak since 1985. Seven of those 13 were against ranked teams too, and the six unranked teams were all beaten in shutout fashion. In making it to the South Region Tournament for the eighth year in a row, the Mocs were paired against #7 Saint Leo in the first round but lost 5-3. Scattered among its 16-8 record that season was four losses to ranked teams by either 5-4 or 5-3 scores.
Even when the Mocs have had a down year under Riddell, they’ve still fielded very good teams. Her first year as head coach was one such example when the Mocs went 11-12 in 2006, but still went to the NCAA Tournament and ended the year ranked #20 in the country. That record was even more remarkable considering the Mocs had just two returning players and injuries left them with a depleted roster in the middle of the season, forcing them to default at two positions in seven different matches. Among them were a 5-4 loss to #22 Indianapolis and a 6-3 loss to Division I SE Missouri State.
Another example was 2014, when the Moccasins went 15-6 and finished third in the SSC regular season standings, but were perhaps unjustly left out of the NCAA postseason for the first time in Riddell’s career. None of their six losses came to teams ranked lower than #8, two of them came by 5-4 counts, and the Mocs beat national semifinalist Saint Leo along the way. They finished the year ranked #10 in the country, but due to a change in the NCAA Regional alignment that took two bids away from the South Region, the Mocs were not invited to the tournament.
In 2017, Florida Southern posted a 15-8 mark and followed that with a 14-9 record in 2018, advancing to the NCAA postseason in both years.
All of Riddell’s accomplishments have come while facing the best Division II tennis teams in the country throughout her entire career. Nearly two-thirds of her matches have come against nationally ranked teams, and more than a quarter of them were ranked in the top-10 of either the NCAA Division II poll or NAIA poll. Of Riddell’s 187 career wins, 84 have been against nationally or regionally ranked opponents. That type of schedule also provides another testament to the way Riddell improved the Moccasins after an 11-12 campaign in her initial season. That year, the Mocs lost to six ranked opponents they turned around and beat in 2007. Among them was perennial national power Rollins College, a team the Mocs beat for the first time since 1984.
Since that first year, the Moccasins have gone on to defeat 11 top-10 opponents, most recently #7 Saint Leo in 2014. The 2008 win over #5 West Florida remains the highest ranked team they’ve beaten under Riddell, though Florida Southern also defeated three top-3 NAIA teams, with #2 Embry-Riddle the last one in 2013.
During her 13 years at Florida Southern, Riddell has coached 17 different All-SSC players, including Softic, who was inducted into the FSC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
Under Riddell’s tutelage, Softic became the program’s first four-time All-American (2007-10), won the 2008 Varner Invitational, finished third at the ITA National Finals during the fall of 2009, and graduated as the school’s career leader in wins. Even playing in the same conference with perennial national powers such as Barry, Lynn, and Rollins, the Moccasins have had four seasons with at least three All-SSC players under Riddell.
Riddell previously spent six years (2000-05) as an assistant coach at Rollins College, another member of the Sunshine State Conference. Under Bev Buckley, Riddell helped keep the Tars among the most prominent Division II programs in the country, with Rollins advancing to the NCAA Tournament each year. The Tars finished each season in the top ten of the final ITA Division II national poll and advanced to the national semi-finals in 2000.
A 1993 graduate of the University of Houston and a four-year letter winner for the Cougars, Riddell had a career singles record of 29-32 and a doubles mark of 25-15. She spent one year playing at the number one position in both singles and doubles.
After graduation, Riddell earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas in 1995, and also served as the assistant women’s tennis coach during her two years in Fayetteville. From there, she moved to Palm Beach, Florida, and served as assistant pro at the Seaview Tennis Center. In June of 1996, she was named the Director of Tennis at the Sheraton Vistana Resort in Orlando and held that position until May of 2001. She also spent six months as a special events coordinator and teaching professional at Amagansett Eastside Tennis Club in New York, which included assisting with the New York Hamptons in World Team Tennis.
Riddell’s playing career is still going strong too. Not just a top-flight player in the United States, Riddell has also excelled at the international level, playing in numerous tournaments even after her coaching career began at Florida Southern. Riddell has been a member of the U.S. senior tennis team since 2008, which competes in the International Tennis Federation’s Seniors World Team Championships.
In addition to her coaching duties at Florida Southern, Riddell has served as the South Region chair on the ITA ranking committee and is also a professor in the school’s sports management program.
|TRISH RIDDELL YEAR-BY-YEAR
|Career (13 seasons)||187-110||.630||61-45|
|13 Seasons at Florida Southern||187-110||.630||61-45|