Former Vanderbilt standout Aleke Tsoubanos enters her 13th season coaching under Macdonald. Tsoubanos has played an essential role in bringing in some of the nation’s top recruiting classes since her arrival and has been a key to the team’s successes in the SEC and NCAA, including the squad’s back to back 2017 and 2018 SEC regular-season and tournament crowns 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.
The St. Louis, Mo., native enjoyed a very successful college career. She was named an ITA All-American from 2002-04, a first-team all-NCAA selection, a first-team All-SEC selection in both singles and doubles and is the only player to win the ITA All-American Riviera doubles championship two consecutive years with two different partners. Tsoubanos also excelled off the court, being named to the All-SEC academic team.
“By excelling in tennis at the highest level and at Vanderbilt, she brings a lot of tennis experience and enthusiasm to our program and campus,” Macdonald said.
Tsoubanos still holds four school records. She partnered with Kelly Schmandt in 2004 to win 15 consecutive doubles matches. She holds the record for best doubles winning percentage in a career, winning 82% of her doubles matches between 2000 and 2004. She has the most career doubles victories with 119 and registered 32 doubles victories in a season with both Sarah Riske (’03) and Kelly Schmandt (’04).
The Commodores enjoyed some of their most successful years while Tsoubanos was a member of the team. Vanderbilt made the NCAA title match in Tsoubanos’ freshman season, falling to Stanford in the finals. VU also made the NCAA elite eight (2003) and final four (2004) during Tsoubanos’ junior and senior seasons, respectively.
“I feel privileged to be working with Coach Macdonald and a group of highly talented student-athletes, Tsoubanos said.
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, the Vanderbilt associate head coach played two seasons of World Team Tennis for her hometown team, the St. Louis Aces. While playing for 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).