New Bulldogs Mentor Has Been to NCAA Tournament as Coach, Player
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Taka Bertrand, who spent the past two seasons as head coach at St. John's, has been named Swensen-McMahon Head Coach of Women's Tennis at Yale. Bertrand brings NCAA Tournament experience as both a coach (at the University of Chicago) and as a player (at Vanderbilt) to her new role.
"I am deeply honored to be named the Swensen-McMahon Head Coach of Women's Tennis at Yale University," said Bertrand. "I would like to thank Tom Beckett, Barbara Chesler, Forrest Temple and Megan McMahon ['87] for providing this opportunity and entrusting me with the leadership of one the most prestigious programs in the country."
Bertrand takes over a Yale team that has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and won the Ivy League championship three times in the past four years. She replaces Danielle McNamara, who stepped down after this past season.
"My goal is to listen to, develop, support and mentor the young ladies on the Yale women's tennis team, while continuing the university's culture of excellence," said Bertrand. "My staff and I are fully committed to building upon the tremendous success achieved by Coach Danielle McNamara and we will work enthusiastically to recruit the finest student-athletes to Yale University."
At St. John's Bertrand led the Red Storm to an 8-3 mark in conference matches, and a 22-20 overall mark, over the past two seasons. The team also had a pair of All-Big East honorees. In her first season at the helm she led St. John's to 11 wins, nearly doubling the team's win total from the previous season (six). This past season the team earned its highest seed at the Big East tournament in 10 years (fourth) and advanced to the conference semifinals.
Prior to coaching at St. John's, Bertrand served as the interim head coach of both the men's and women's tennis programs at the University of Chicago. In 2012, she led the women's team to the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championship Finals for the first time in school history. The Maroons went 23-5 and finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country, the best national ranking in school history. They won their second University Athletic Association tournament championship, helping Bertrand and her staff earn recognition as the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year.
Bertrand was hired as an assistant coach at Chicago in February 2010, and helped lead the women's team to NCAA Division III Final Four appearances in 2010 and 2011. She also helped guide the men's squad to an appearance in the NCAA regional finals in 2011 and helped Kendra Higgins to the 2011 NCAA singles final and a No. 2 national ranking. The 2010 women's squad also won the UAA conference championship, Chicago's first conference championship in women's tennis.
For her efforts at Chicago, Bertrand was named the ITA Division III Women's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2011 and the ITA Division III Central Region Men's and Women's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.
"Taka Bertrand brings outstanding credentials and leadership qualities to her new role as the Swensen-McMahon Head Coach of Women's Tennis," said Tom Beckett, Yale's Director of Athletics. "In addition to her experience as a head coach at both St. John's and the University of Chicago, she was highly successful as a student-athlete at Vanderbilt and competed professionally on the WTA Tour. We are thrilled to have her here at Yale."
Bertrand graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008 with the school record for singles wins (124). She was the 2004-05 SEC Freshman of the Year and the 2005-06 SEC Player of the Year, making her the only player in school history to receive both awards. She was an All-SEC selection in all four of her seasons (first team in 2006 and 2008, second team in 2007, second team in singles and doubles in 2005) and earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times. She was selected as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Amateur Female Athlete of the Year for 2006.
Vanderbilt went 84-26 in Bertrand's career, including a 20-6 mark when she captained the team in 2008. The team finished the season ranked in the top 16 nationally each year, advancing to the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament four times. Bertrand also played individually in the NCAA singles tournament twice, advancing as far as the second round in 2006.
Bertrand played professionally on the WTA Tour for one year after graduating from Vanderbilt, rising as high as No. 602 in the world rankings in singles and No. 587 in doubles.
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Great Falls, Va., Bertrand holds a BA in economics from Vanderbilt and a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity