Six players named scholar athletes, team earns academic award
The Herd Adds Anna Smith and Ana Marhuenda
The Herd earned one first team honor, three second team honors and two third team honors
The Herd finishes the season with a 14-10 record
Derya Turhan won her tenth consecutive singles match
The Marshall University women's tennis team gave senior Kristina Koprcina a fine farewell as it beat the Cincinnati Bearcats 6-1 at home.
The ladies of the Thundering Herd tennis team defeated the ETSU Buccaneers 6-1 on Friday afternoon at the Brian David Fox Tennis Center
The Herd has won at least 10 matches in every season since Mercer took over in 2003 and has never held a winning percentage below .500 during Mercer's tenure. Marshall has made at least the quarterfinals in every season since Mercer took over.
Mercer helped turn around the career of Derya Turhan, who won 55 singles matches in her final two years with the Herd and was named Conference USA Player of the Year in 2016. Turhan won 54 matches in her first two seasons and improved that mark to 93 wins over her final two seasons with the help of Mercer. Turhan was the second Conference USA Player of the Year that Mercer has coached, joining former Herd assistant Kellie Schmitt, who won the award three times.
In the 2016-17 season, Mercer helped the team improve by three wins from the previous season, finishing at 14-10 overall. The Herd had five players named All-Conference for singles for the second time in the last three seasons. Derya Turhan earned First Team honors for the third straight season. All three seniors (Turhan, Rachael Morales and Anna Pomyatinskaya) earned All-Conference singles honors in all four years. The Herd reached its highest mark in the rankings since 2011 when it was ranked No. 37 by ITA.
In the 2015-16 season, the Herd endured its worst mark since Mercer took over, finishing at 11-11 overall and reaching the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament before falling to Old Dominion. Derya Turhan was named Conference USA Player of the Year after the season and made All-Conference USA First Team for singles and doubles.
In the 2014-15 season, the Herd went 16-10 in the spring season and lost in the Championship round of the Conference USA tournament against No. 30 Rice. The championship appearance was the first time the Herd reached the championship match of the tournament since 2010 and the fourth time since joining Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign. Marshall finished the 2015 spring season being nationally ranked at No. 52 by ITA.
Mercer has an overall record of 243-133 as Marshall head coach. That record equates to a .651 winning percentage as of May 2017, the second highest mark in Marshall history. With each win he obtains, Mercer will continue to add to his total as the winningest coach in Marshall tennis history.
Over a span of years from 2012-13 to 2014-15, Mercer has steadily improved The Herd’s win totals as it went 16-10 in 2014-15, 14-8 in 2013-14 and 13-11 in 2012-13. In both the 2013 and 2014 spring seasons, Marshall finished in the second round of the Conference USA tournament by losing to ranked Tulsa.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Mercer led the team to an undefeated home record while advancing to the C-USA quarterfinals. During the 2010-11 campaign Mercer led Marshall to an impressive 18-6 record and a peak of No. 34 in the ITA national rankings. It was a year that also saw him lead the doubles duo of Dominika Zaprazna and Michaela Kissell to an undefeated regular season and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Mercer and the Herd embarked on a 2009-10 campaign that rewrote the Marshall record books. The team finished the season with an overall mark of 19-7, while hitting its highest national ranking in program history at No. 28. Marshall's 11-0 record to begin the 2010 season was the best start in program history, and Mercer guided the Herd to the C-USA title match and 2011 National Team Indoor Championships that year. Mercer also saw two of his players (Michaela Kissell and Dominika Zaprazna) compete in the NCAA Tournament.
Mercer took over the head coaching duties in 2003 and led the team to a 19-8 record in his first season and a school best 22-5 mark in 2004. Marshall took home the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships in both 2003 and 2004, earning Mercer the MAC Coach of the Year award for both seasons. In the 2005 season, Mercer guided the Thundering Herd to its fourth consecutive MAC Tournament Title and NCAA appearance as the squad finished 19-8, and he was named the ITA East Region Head Coach of the Year.
Before taking on the role of head coach, Mercer became the assistant coach at Marshall in 1994-95, joining his wife Laurie, the head coach at the time. While an assistant, Mercer helped build the program into a perennial MAC power and a force to be reckoned with on the national scene. During his time as the assistant, Mercer helped lead Marshall to its first ever Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship in 1997.
After the team switched to the Mid-American Conference in 1998, Marshall was able to capture its first conference regular season championship in 2000 and its first tournament championship in 2002. In 2001, Mercer was named ITA East Region assistant coach of the year and was one of eight finalists for the national award.
Mercer played his collegiate tennis at Penn State University, where he was an Academic All-Conference selection. He graduated from Penn State in 1985 and served the next season as the Nittany Lion's assistant men's coach.
Following his stint with Penn State, Mercer served as an assistant men's coach for the nationally-ranked University of Texas. While there, his teams consistently finished in the top-10 of the rankings, and Mercer was able to complete his master's degree in exercise physiology in 1988.
After a successful career at Texas, Mercer went on to join West Virginia University, where he served as the assistant men's tennis coach for six years, winning five Atlantic-10 regular season titles and appearing in two NCAA tournaments when only 20 teams were invited annually. In addition, the Mountaineers finished ranked in the top-25 for two seasons and in the top-50 for three seasons during his tenure. During his career, Mercer has coached 11 All-Americans and coached in 14 NCAA Championships.
Mercer also has experience at the professional level, as he traveled for two years coaching on the ATP Tour and held an ATP doubles ranking in 1988. Other awards for Mercer include the 2001 East Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, being named a USPTA P1 professional, the USPTA/Middle States "Rookie Pro of the Year" award in 1991, and a combination with his father, Don Mercer, to form the number one father-son doubles team in the Middle States Tennis Association.
Mercer comes from a tennis family. In 2001, the Dr. Donald Mercer family was named "Family of the Year" for the Middle States. He has two brothers, Tom, who was an All-American at TCU and was ranked in the top-100 in doubles and top-300 in singles on the ATP pro tour, and Ron Mercer, who also played at Texas and West Virginia held an ATP singles and doubles ranking.
Mercer is married to the former Laurie Johnson and has three children: daughter Cassie, born February 25, 1996, son John Jeremiah, born July 16, 2000, son Andrew Jacob, born June 7, 2005, and daughter Samantha Mercer, born July 21, 2010.
JOHN MERCER QUICK FACTS:
30 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience - Named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004 - Coached Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kroh to the finals of the NCAA doubles tournament in 2004 - Johnson and Kroh became Marshall's first tennis All-Americans and first Olympic Sports participants in an NCAA National Final at Marshall - Led Dominika Zaprazna and Michaela Kissell to an undefeated regular season and NCAA doubles berth in 2011 - Coached the Herd to a NCAA tournament appearance in both singles and doubles in 2008, which was a first in program history - In 2007, coached Kellie Schmitt and Karolina Soor to the ITA East Regional Championship doubles title win over the number one nationally-ranked team in the finals - Stands as the program's winningest head coach in winning percentage with a .689 percentage and a 162-73 record in ten years of coaching the Herd - Was selected in 2005 as the ITA East Region Head Coach of the Year, and in 2001 was named the ITA East Region Assistant Coach of the Year - Marshall has compiled a winning record since his arrival as an assistant in 1996 and the Herd has made six NCAA tournament appearances - 11 All-Americans have played for Mercer and he has coached in 14 NCAA Championships - Tennis is one of only two programs at Marshall to play in an NCAA tournament since Mercer took over in 2003 - Mercer led the Herd to three-straight team NCAA Tournament appearances and six individual NCAA tournament appearances after he took over as head coach in 2003.