Aleke Tsoubanos is in her first season at the helm of the women’s tennis program in 2020-21 after 13 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach.
A three-time All-American as a student-athlete at Vanderbilt, Tsoubanos has played an essential role in bringing in some of the nation’s top recruiting classes to West End since returning as a member of the coaching staff, and has been essential to the program’s elite level of success, including the squad’s back-to-back SEC regular-season and tournament crowns (2017, 2018) and 2015 national championship title.
In 2020, Tsoubanos helped coach the Dores to a 7-3 dual match record and concluded the shortened season 3-1 in conference matches. During their strong start to the season, the Commodores commanded a huge upset over No. 2 Ohio State at the Currey Tennis Center, 5-2. In conference play, the Dores finished with three-consecutive wins over SEC foes to cap the shortened season at No. 15 in the nation.
2019 was a strong season for the Commodores as they earned 19 victories, only dropping eight matches. The Commodores conquered eleven victories at home, only dropping two and earned 10 victories over SEC foes. In tournament play, the Dores advanced to the second round of the SEC tournament shutting out Kentucky, 4-0. The Commodores fell short to eventual champions, South Carolina to conclude their time in the tournament. In NCAA play, Macdonald coached the Commodores to a Regional sweep with victories over Miami (Ohio) and Georgia Tech followed by shutting out Texas A&M in the Super Regional for a spot in the NCAA Elite Eight. The Dores fell short to SEC opponent, Georgia 4-3 in the NCAA Championships to wrap up their stellar season. The Dores concluded the season as the No. 8 team in the nation.
Tsoubanos helped coach the Commodores to a very successful 2017-18 season. Under her coaching, the Dores accomplished a 27-4 overall record and a 12-1 conference record. Following the regular season succes, Tsoubanos helped guide the team to become back to back SEC regular season champions also securing the SEC tournament championship title. Tsoubanos helped guide the Commodores to the 2018 NCAA tournament where the Dores made their fourth Final Four debut in a row and competed in the championship round of the tournament.
Known as one of the most respected college coaching duos in the country, Tsoubanos and Macdonald earned several awards in 2015 for their passionate leadership on and off the court. This past season Tsoubanos earned her third Ohio Valley Assistant Coach of the year award, and was voted Vanderbilt’s first ever ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year.
“Aleke has had a real impact on our program,” Vanderbilt head coach Geoff Macdonald said. “She has a great tennis eye and strong work ethic and relationship with our players. She is great working with people and knows all phases to the game which makes her an exceptional, bright young coach.”
The addition of Tsoubanos led to instant success for the Commodores in 2008. Tsoubanos’ coaching style led the Dores to its 12th straight sweet-16 finish and top-10 national ranking.
A native of St. Louis, Tsoubanos was a standout student-athlete for the Commodores. During her career on West End, she was a three-time ITA All-American (2002-04), first-team All-NCAA selection, first-team All-SEC selection in both singles and doubles and was the first player to win the ITA All-American Riviera doubles championship two consecutive years with two different partners. Tsoubanos also excelled off the court, where she earned All-SEC Academic Team accolades.
Inducted into the Vanderbilt Hall of Fame in 2015, Tsoubanos still holds four school records. She partnered with Kelly Schmandt in 2004 to win 15 consecutive doubles matches, and she owns the highest doubles winning percentage in a career, winning 82 percent of her doubles matches from 2000-04. She also has the most career doubles victories with 119 and registered 32 doubles victories in a season with both Sarah Riske (2003) and Kelly Schmandt (2004)
The Commodores enjoyed some of their most successful years while Tsoubanos was a member of the team. Vanderbilt made the NCAA title match in her freshman season and made the NCAA quarterfinals (2003) and semifinals (2004) in her final two years in black and gold.
Tsoubanos enjoyed success in the professional ranks during her career. Her doubles ranking rose as high as 126, winning four doubles titles while on tour. She made the doubles semifinals or better 23 times while on the International Tennis Federation circuit.
In 2005-2006, Tsoubanos played World Team Tennis for her hometown team, the St. Louis Aces. While with the Aces, she scored doubles wins over such players as Anna Kournikova and Meghann Shaughnessy.
Tsoubanos resides in Nashville with her husband, Dr. Jason Valentine (associate professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt) and their three children; Andrew (6), Evie (4) and Lia (18 months).