Utah features a new head coach in Ric Mortera as well as a talented nucleus of players who return from a team that finished in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association top 50 in 2019.
The Utes went 13-11 overall and 3-7 in Pac-12 play, ranking as high as No. 38 nationally in March and finishing 44th. It's the first time Utah was ranked in the final ITA poll in three years. The Utes were also ranked in the top five of the ITA Mountain Region for the fifth straight year, coming in at No. 2.
Utah's doubles duo of departing senior Brianna Chisholm and rising sophomore Madison Tattini concluded their season ranked No. 51 nationally. Tattini and Chisholm wrapped up a successful season with a 10-5 dual record, including 4-1 in conference play and 3-2 against ranked opponents.
Chisholm, who played No. 1 singles, earned Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention and was named the 2019 Pac-12 Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Tattini, the Utes' No. 2 single player, was named the ITA Mountain Region Rookie of the Year. She won her first six matches in the fall and finished with 20 victories, including three in conference play and one in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Rising senior Whitney Hekking earned Pac-12 All-Academic second-team honors for the second straight year. She compiled 11 singles wins in dual matches at the No. 5 position. Rising junior Leah Heimuli earned Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention. She played at the No. 6 singles position last season.
Two rising sophomores will look to build off solid 2019 seasons. Emily Dush had a 10-12 dual meet record while playing primarily at No. 3 singles. Dush was a four-star recruit ranked in the top 75 in the nation. Lindsay Hung went 9-7 while competing mostly at No. 4 singles. Hung, a five-star recruit, was ranked in the top 40 in the nation and a high school All-American.
Two other rising sophomores will look to get more playing time in the coming year. Anya Lamoreaux, a four-start recruit, was ranked as the No. 26 player coming out of the Southwest region. Jasmine Rich played in just two matches last season after redshirting her first year at Utah in 2017-18.
The Utes won the ITA Community Service Award for the second year in a row in 2019.
Ric Mortera is in his first year as the head coach of the Utah women's tennis program.
Mortera was hired on June 28, 2019 after spending one year as Fresno State's women's tennis head coach and three years as a highly successful assistant coach at Texas Tech.
The Bulldogs won nine dual matches with three student-athletes earning All-Mountain West honors in 2018-19. During his time at Texas Tech, the Lady Raiders went 73-17 for the best three-year winning percentage (.811) in program history while six athletes captured All-Big 12 singles honors. Texas Tech made the NCAA Tournament all three years that Mortera was on staff, advancing to at least the Sweet 16 each time.
Mortera was named Wilson/ITA Texas Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017 with his final season being the best in program history. They finished the season ranked No. 7 in the Oracle/ITA rankings, made their first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance, produced a program-high 27 wins, and won the first Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships in program history.
Prior to his stint at Texas Tech, Mortera was an assistant coach at Illinois (2014) and Purdue (2013). At Illinois, he saw the Fighting Illini hold a No. 45 ITA ranking, notching upsets over No. 25 TCU and No. 29 Oklahoma State with four student-athletes being honored by the Big Ten through all-academic, all-conference and sportsmanship award selections. While at Purdue, the Boilermakers reached a program-high No. 14 in the ITA rankings as they advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 32 with a program-best 18 dual wins that season.
Mortera got his start in collegiate coaching as a volunteer assistant at Illinois for two seasons (2011-12), also working on the Women's Tennis Association Tour where he coached former United States Fed Cup player Alexa Glatch and 2009 Orange Bowl champion Julia Boserup. He helped Glatch reach the U.S. Open and Wimbledon main draws, and Boserup achieve a career-high ranking of No. 174.
The Portland, Ore., native was a four-year letter winner at Oregon. He graduated in 2010 with degrees in both economics and political science after ranking as high as No. 45 in the ITA his senior season while also receiving a master's in sport management from Texas Tech in 2018.
Blair Shankle, a three-time All-American at Baylor, is in her first season as an assistant coach with the Utes. Shankle previously worked as an assistant coach for two seasons at Ole Miss and as a student coach at Baylor while completing her master's degree in accounting.
In 2020 at Ole Miss, Shankle helped lead the team to a No. 24 ranking in the ITA/Oracle poll. The Rebels had two singles players ranked as well as two doubles teams. During her first year in Oxford, Shankle helped guide senior Tea Jandric to the ITA Southern Region's Most Improved Senior, as well as garnering an All-SEC Second Team recognition.
As a player at Baylor, the Dallas native ended her career ranking third in school history in doubles wins (99), tied for fourth in singles winning percentage (.826), sixth in singles wins (109) and seventh in doubles winning percentage (.733). Shankle achieved a high ranking of No. 3 in the ITA/Oracle singles poll, which was the highest in school history. She helped lead the Bears to four straight NCAA appearances, including an Elite Eight showing in 2015. The Bears also collected both the Big 12 regular season and tournament championships in two of her four seasons.
Shankle was an ITA Doubles All-American in 2014 and 2015 after reaching the quarterfinal rounds at the NCAA Doubles Championships both seasons. She then closed out her career as a 2017 ITA Singles All-American after advancing to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Shankle earned All-Big 12 honors in both singles and doubles from 2015-17. As a senior, she was the recipient of the ITA Most Improved Senior award as the regional and national winner.
Backing up her tremendous success on the court, Shankle was a four-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection. In 2017, Shankle was a CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honoree. She was the first person in program history to be named both an All-American on the court and in the classroom.