Susanne Depka was named the program’s head coach in June of 2017 and enters her fourth season at the helm for the 2020-21 season. Overall she enters her seventh season with the Davidson women’s tennis program.
Depka has been with the program since 2014 as assistant coach and took over for Sara Anundsen O’Leary, who became the head coach at the University of Virginia.
A former professional player on the WTA tour, Depka (36-21 record) has helped the Wildcats excel during their six-year run in the Atlantic 10. Davidson has sported an 81-42 overall mark with a 27-8 record in league matches. It reached the league championship match in 2016 before falling to VCU to finish the year 18-5 overall, the most wins since 2008. The ‘Cats also reached the semifinals in 2019 before again falling to eventual champion VCU.
While at Davidson, Depka has helped coach six Wildcats to all-conference honors, including Anna Catharine Feaster ’18 who was a four-time first-team pick. The ‘Cats have also won an A-10 weekly award 35 times.
The 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with just 11 matches being played before the season was halted, March 13. Depka still guided the Wildcats to a winning record, going 6-5 overall and ended the shortened season on a positive note by scoring two straight wins against league foes Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s, which was a 7-0 blanking in the final match. In her final season, Alexandra Abele was honored with the Rebecca A. Stimson Award, Davidson Athletics’ top female award given to a senior scholar-athlete. She had an outstanding four-year career, earning all-conference three times and finished with a .742 winning percentage in singles matches. She had 52 career wins, which was tied for fifth-most dating back to 2000 and ended her senior season with seven straight wins.
In 2019, Davidson went 14-11 and advanced to the semifinals of the A-10 Women’s Tennis Championships. It defended its home courts well, going 8-2 on the year. Individually, Depka coached a pair of A-10 All-Second Teamers in Abele and Gabrielle Centenari, while Abele was named to the A-10 All-Academic Team. The Wildcats as a team were honored for their academic success by earning ITA All-Academic Team honors, and a trio of ‘Cats (Abele, Samantha Armas and Mira Gladstone) were ITA All-Academic Scholar Athletes.
In her first year as the head coach, Depka led Davidson to an impressive 16-5 record and a 5-1 mark in A-10 matches. The Wildcats reached the quarterfinals of the league championship. During the season, they ran off a 10-match winning streak which was the second time in the past three years they had 10 or more wins in a row during the season. In addition, the ‘Cats had a stellar home mark, going 11-1 on the season.
Depka saw freshman Lindsay Song (4), Alexandra Abele (2) and Ava Todd each win the A-10 Rookie or Player of the Week, while Abele was named to the A-10 All-Second Team, Todd was a All-Academic Team member and Feaster made the A-10 All-First Team for the fourth straight season. Ten players were named to A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the season.
Depka came to Davidson after a four-year stint as an assistant coach at North Carolina State from 2010-2014.
During her four-year stay at N.C. State, Depka helped the Wolfpack reach two NCAA appearances. In her first season, Depka helped the team achieve a No. 25 national ranking, the highest in school history. N.C. State advanced to the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament and sent Sanaa Bhambri to the NCAA Singles Championship. Bhambri also qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship with teammate Sandhya Nagaraj.
Prior to her time at N.C. State, Depka had spent seven years co-directing a high performance junior tennis program in North Carolina. During her time with the program, she helped develop over 15 nationally ranked players who went on to play Division I college tennis on scholarship.
Before arriving in the state of North Carolina, Depka was an assistant coach at Northwestern from 1998 through 2000. In her first year on staff, Northwestern captured the Big Ten regular season title, made the Big Ten tournament championship match, and reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. The following year, Northwestern repeated as regular season champions and received a top 20 national ranking.
Depka played professionally prior to her experience at Northwestern, achieving a top 500 world ranking in WTA singles and doubles. In addition to her touring career, Depka represented the United States in the 1995 Pan American games in Argentina, winning one silver and two bronze medals, and reached the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles at the 1997 World Maccabi games in Israel.
Depka attended the University of Illinois from 1993 to 1997, receiving the team’s most improved player award as a freshman and most valuable player as a senior. Depka succeeded academically as well, earning the George Huff Award for achieving a 4.0 grade point average.