McNeese's Helena Besovic named Houston's head tennis coach

McNeese's Helena Besovic named Houston's head tennis coach
(Source: Houston Athletics)

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HOUSTON, TX - University of Houston Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman named Helena Besovic as Houston's 10th Head Tennis Coach on Thursday. A highly-decorated player in her own right, Besovic arrives in Houston after four seasons as head coach at McNeese University.

"We are excited to welcome Helena to the Houston Athletics family as the head coach of our Tennis program," said Pezman. "She has a commitment to excellence with her student-athletes on and off the court and has demonstrated that same excellence as a student-athlete herself. Helena is viewed as a rising star across the tennis community and her quick success at McNeese bodes well for the future of our program."

The 2018 Southland Conference Coach of the Year and the Louisiana Coach of the Year, Besovic led McNeese to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance while sweeping the Southland's regular season and conference tournament championships. Both conference titles were the first in McNeese history.

"It's an honor for me to be chosen as the next head tennis coach at the University of Houston," said Besovic. "I would like to thank Chris Pezman and Lauren DuBois for trusting in me and giving me this great opportunity to become part of the UH family. I'm excited to start working with the team and look forward to accomplishing great things together. Go Coogs!"

In addition to her own Louisiana honor, Besovic tutored Sarah Jurakova, who was named to the All-Louisiana First Team, and junior Giovanna Fioretti and sophomore Phonexay Chitdara, who were awarded second-team honors. Jurakova and Chitdara also garnered All-SLC first-team selections at the number two and six spots respectively.

As a team, the Cowgirls posted a record of 18-4 in 2018 including a 10-1 league mark, matching the most conference wins in a season for the Cowgirls since 2014 when McNeese finished one match out of first place.

In addition to excelling on the court, Besovic's teams shined off the court, as well as McNeese, received the NCAA Public Recognition Award in 2017 after posting a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 1,000 while four student-athletes were named to the 2017 ITA Scholar-Athlete All-Academic Team.

In her first two years as head coach, Besovic quickly put her stamp on the Cowgirl program. She led the squad to consecutive 10+ win seasons including 15 victories in 2016. She became only the second coach in McNeese history to guide a team to 10 or more wins in her first two years.

Under Besovic, Cowgirl freshman Giovanna Fioretti earned Southland Conference Freshman of the Year honors after producing a 14-6 dual record in singles, including an 8-3 mark in league play. Fioretti filled in at the No. 1 spot towards the end of the season and posted a 5-3 record and picked up seven wins out of her last 10 matches overall to finish the year.

McNeese compiled 13 victories during Besovic's first season at the helm and also collected a third-place finish in the league standings after posting an 8-3 mark.

Besovic mentored the Louisiana Freshman of the Year in Jurakova, who finished 11-2 in singles action with a 9-1 record against conference opponents. Jurakova was also named the No. 5 position singles champion in the conference. 

Prior to McNeese, Besovic spent seven years at the University of Missouri where she served two seasons as an assistant with the Missouri women's tennis team. In her third season with the team, Besovic was named interim head coach and guided the Tigers to an 11-8 record and an appearance in the Big 12 Women's Tennis Championships.

In addition to her coaching duties, Besovic also served as an instructor in Missouri's Spanish department for three years.

Upon graduation, she spent one year as an assistant with the Penn State women's tennis team. She played a role in helping the Nittany Lions reach the Big Ten Championships.

Before the start of her coaching career, Besovic competed on the ITF Women's Circuit. During her time, Besovic reached two singles finals in 10 events and won two doubles titles with partner Nina Munch-Soegaard. 

One of the greatest players to ever step on the court at TCU, Besovic posted a 67-19 singles record in two seasons with the Horned Frogs. She recorded 36 singles victories in 2006, which was second on TCU's single-season wins chart. An NCAA qualifier in both singles and doubles, Besovic helped lead TCU to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2006.

Her performance on the court earned her multiple awards including the prestigious TCU Female Athlete of the Year honor and team MVP. She finished her senior season 29th in the ITA singles rankings and was the ITA Senior Player of the Year.

During her time at TCU, Besovic was a regular in the ITA collegiate individual rankings, reaching as high as 21st in singles and eighth in doubles action.

Prior to transferring to TCU, Besovic played for two seasons at Ouachita Baptist earning Division II All-America honors. She was the doubles runner-up and the third-place singles finisher in the 2003 ITA Small College Championship. Additionally, Besovic was the ITA South Region Rookie of the Year in 2003.

A native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Besovic graduated from TCU with a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations and Spanish in 2007 as well as a master's degree in Spanish from Missouri. She received her Doctorate's in Spanish Literature from Missouri in 2016.

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