Contract Extended; Mortera Receives Contract Extension
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Head Women's Tennis Coach Ric Mortera has signed a contract extension through June of 2027, Director of Athletics Mark Harlan announced. Mortera led the Utes to a 15-win season and signed a Top 10 recruiting class.
"Ric Mortera has done a terrific job of elevating our women's tennis program and establishing a foundation for future success," Harlan said. "His team's performance on the court and in the classroom has been tremendous, and he has raised the bar significantly in recruiting. With the upward trajectory of his program, it was an important priority to extend his contract at this time."
Mortera, who is entering his fourth season as head coach at Utah, signed the ninth-ranked recruiting class as rated by the Tennis Recruiting Network, the highest ranking in program history. The Utes' incoming signing class includes the program's first Blue-Chip recruit, Kaila Barksdale. Following the 2022 season, Mortera was named Wilson/ITA Mountain Region Coach of the Year.
"I am so grateful for the leadership at the University of Utah and Mark Harlan's continued belief in me and the program we are building here," remarked Mortera. "I have absolutely loved calling Utah home for the past three years, and I am looking forward to continuing along the path to our collective goals. It is an honor to work for such a great institution, and I am excited for the future."
During the 2021-22 season, Mortera had the Utes reaching new heights. The Utes defeated No. 21 USC for the first time in program history, and Anastasia Goncharova and Linda Huang received Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention honors. The Utes finished as the top-ranked team in the ITA Mountain Region and placed three in the mountain region singles rankings, including the top-ranked player, Linda Huang.
Though his first season at the helm of the program was shortened due to COVID-19 in the 2019-20 campaign, Mortera led the young Utah squad to the best start to a season since 1983-84. The Utes jumped out to a 5-0 start on the year, which included a 4-3 win over Minnesota.
Mortera led the team to finish 12-5 in dual play before the season was canceled. Utah went 8-0 against Mountain Region opponents that were highlighted by an upset over the No. 33-ranked Denver Pioneers and the program's 11th-straight victory against in-state rival BYU.
Mortera guided Madison Tattini and Whitney Hekking to achieve a final ranking of No. 12 in the ITA/Oracle doubles poll, just missing out on All-America honors after holding a 12-1 record to end the year. The No. 12 ranking is the highest rank by a pair of Utes in the final poll since the 1992 season.
Hekking was named the ITA Mountain Region's Most Improved Senior after she previously played primarily at the No. 5, No. 6 singles positions, and No. 2 doubles spot before moving up to the No. 3 singles and No. 1 singles position this year. Mortera also played a crucial role in the development of Emily Dush and Anya Lamoreaux, who posted team-best 9-2 and 8-1 overall records in 2020, respectively.
Despite not being able to finish the season, Mortera's group managed to finish the semester strong academically, breaking the all-time department team GPA in a semester. All nine student-athletes made the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, while seven made the Dean's List to combine for a school-record 3.894 team GPA.
In the 2021 spring season, Mortera saw the Utes continue their success in Mountain Region play, finishing 7-2 on the year. Utah recorded wins over BYU (4-2), Boise State (5-2), and Weber State (5-2) to highlight the region run. Mortera pushed transfer Anastasia Goncharova in earning All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors with just one season at the U after she tied for a team-high eight singles wins in dual play, and second-most doubles wins with eight in the spring. Madeline Lamoreaux also finished the year ranked No. 6 in singles in the Mountain Region, while Lamoreaux and Emily Dush were ranked No. 4 in the region for doubles.
Prior to being named the head coach in Salt Lake City, Mortera spent a year as Fresno State's women's tennis head coach, where he saw the Bulldogs win nine dual matches with three student-athletes earning All-Mountain West honors. Mortera also recruited and coached Shir Azran to become the first player in Mountain West history to win at all six singles positions in a single season. He became Fresno State's head coach in July of 2018 after spending three successful seasons as the associate head coach at Texas Tech.
During his time at Texas Tech, the Lady Raiders went 73-17, the best three-year winning percentage in program history (81.1), while six of his athletes captured All-Big 12 singles selections. Texas Tech made the NCAA Tournament all three years that Mortera was on staff, including back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2015 and 2016 and an Elite Eight run in 2017.
Mortera was named Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Texas Region Assistant Coach in 2016 and 2017, with his final season (2017) being the best in program history. They finished the season ranked No. 7 in the final Oracle/ITA rankings, made their first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance, produced a program-high 27 wins, and won its first Big 12 regular season and tournament championships in program history. Mortera also played an integral role in the recruitment and development of Gabriela Talaba, who was Texas Tech's first Big 12 Player of the Year. He also went on to coach Talaba at the 2020 French Open.
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