Cari Groce is in her fourth year at the helm of the Lady Raider tennis program after serving 12 years as the head coach at Washington State University. Groce is in her 16th year as a head coach with a career record of 185-162, which includes stops at Washington State and Tulsa.
Last season Groce led the team to an overall record of 14-8, 7-4 in Big 12 play. At the end of the 2006 season, the Lady Raiders were ranked third in conference and No. 51 in the nation. With the Big 12 being known for some of the top tennis programs in the nation, Tech notched wins over No. 47 Oklahoma State and No. 49 Nebraska. Tech's accomplishments in the classroom continued with senior Katja Kovacic and Lakann Wagley receiving 2006 Academic All-Big 12 honors. Also, for the second year in a row, the No. 1 duo of Tara Browning and Wagley earned All-Big 12 doubles honors.
Groce was named the 2006 Professional Tennis Registry Coach of the Year. The award is named for Coach Jim Verdieck, who was a PTR member and the winningest tennis coach in NCAA history. The award dates back to 1988, and is among one of the greatest milestones in Groce's career.
In her first season at Tech, she led the Lady Raiders to an 11-10 overall record which was a drastic improvement from the previous year at 3-17. Groce coached the team to a 4-7 record in the Big 12 conference. Texas Tech finished the season ranked at No. 8 in the conference. In 2005, Groce led the No. 61 squad to a 10-13 overall record and 5-6 in the Big 12. The Red and Black tallied wins over No. 50 Missouri, No. 56 Colorado and No. 55 Oklahoma.
In July, 2005, Groce was named to the ITA Board of Directors. The ITA Board of Directors, which is comprised of the ITA Executive Director and coaches representing men and women's tennis from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and Junior/Community Colleges, determines overall administrative policy for the association. The Board meets annually each December at the ITA Coaches Convention in Miami.
While at WSU, Groce guided the Cougars to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five years and was named the Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year and ITA Coach of the Year for the Northwest Region in 2001-02. She was also named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, North Division, in 1994, 1995, and 1996. She kept the Cougars nationally ranked since 1994 and produced two first team All Pac-10 Conference players, four second team all-conference selections and eight honorable mentions. On the academic side, her teams were awarded the Top WSU Athletic Award for overall highest GPA seven times, three first-team All Pac-10 Conference Academic selections, as well as eight Academic All-Americans and three Academic All-American teams.
In 2002, Groce served as NCAA West Region representative on the NCAA Tournament Committee. For four years she served as the Northwest regional chair. In addition, she served terms on the ITA operations committee, and on the ITA Tournament Committee and is the National Chair of the men's and women's ITA Awards Committee. In 2001, not only did she lead her team with an 11-8 regular season record to the NCAA team championships, but Groce also saw the school's second individual singles competitor and WSU's first individual doubles team be picked to the NCAA Tournament.
Groce was appointed to Texas Tech's head coaching position in the spring of 2003. Prior to accepting her Tech appointment, Groce served 12 years as the head coach at Washington State and one year as head coach at the University of Tulsa. Groce also served as an assistant coach at Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State.
No stranger to the game, Groce was the first University of Nebraska tennis player to earn All-American honors. She was a four-year letterwinner for the Huskers and guided them on the court as team captain. She was a Big 8 Conference finalist in singles and doubles. During her junior season, Groce earned NCAA/ITA All-American honors while reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. She went on to play a stint on the professional circuit.After completing her eligibility with the Huskers, Groce moved to Oklahoma State as an assistant coach while she completed her bachelor's degree in recreation administration and management.
She is a native of Stillwater, Okla., and her mother Carolyn is a teacher in Lewisville. Her brother, Michael, is on the football staff at Texas A&M, and her sisters, Christi Barr and Cami Patzkowski, are married to football coaches from Denton H.S. and Texas A&M, respectively. She is the proud aunt of Gracie, Allie, Caroline and Landry. Groce's late father, Ike, was inducted into the Texas Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986 and served as the tennis coach at Oklahoma State University.