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Sujay Lama
Sujay Lama

Position:
Head Coach

01/22/2014

Project Nepal

TNS: Coach Lama Gives Back To Nepali Community - Project Nepal

Sujay Lama has established a winning tradition at North Texas. Lama has led the Mean Green to three conference championships in the last five years, including back-to-back crowns in 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, the Mean Green advanced to the semifinal round in its first ever Conference USA Tournament, where they assembled an 11-11 record for the season.Lamacoachedplayers Kseniya Bardabush, Anastasiya Shestakova and Franziska Sprinkmeyerto first-team all-conference honors.

The Mean Green capped off one of the best seasons in school history in 2013 with a second straight Sun Belt Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. For his efforts, Lama was named the 2013 Jim Verdieck College Coach of the Year by the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). This award is given by the leading tennis-teaching professional organization in the world.

In 2012, the Mean Green won its second conference championship, defeating Florida International, 4-2.The Mean Green went on to play Nebraska in the NCAA tournament, losing 4-0.

The 2012 squad also produced the program's highest ranking of No. 40, finishing the season at No. 55. This comes just two seasons, after the Mean Green received its first national ranking of No. 66.

Lama has become the program's winningest coach with a 106-77 record, bringing his career record to 214-161.

Lama also became the first coach in program history to receive coach of the year honors multiple times. He was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Lama was named the USPTA Collegiate Coach of the Year for the state of Texas in 2009.

It didn't take long for Lama to leave his mark on the program. In just four seasons, Lama took the Mean Green from last in the Sun Belt to first.

Working with mainly a group of walk-ons during the 2006-07 school year, Lama went 2-19 in his first season with the Mean Green. The team improved to double-digits wins the next season and then advanced to the conference semifinals in 2008-09.

The 2010 season was a breakout year for Lama and the Mean Green. The team captured the program's first Sun Belt Conference championship with a win over No. 49 FIU. The conference championship earned the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament appearance, the first ever in school history. After a loss to No. 32 Tulsa, North Texas finished its historic season with a 17-7 record.

Lama was also named a finalist for the prestigious Giant Steps Award during 2009. In the fall of 2008, the Mean Green tallied individual wins over national contenders such as LSU, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU, Rice, and Houston.

Lama led North Texas to a 13-9 record in the spring of 2008, its best record since 1986-87. In 2007, he led the program to its best fall season in history. The Mean Green turned the heads of the nation's premier programs, notching individual wins over Ohio State, Kentucky, LSU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and many others.

North Texas success has not been limited to the court, as the Mean Green has picked up ITA All-Academic team honors five times.

Prior to becming North Texas' 10th coach in program history, Lama spent eight years as the women's tennis head coach at the University of Illinois.

The Fighting Illini saw significant improvement with Lama at the helm. In his first year, Lama transformed the Illini from 8-13, 4-7 in Big Ten play, and ninth in the conference the previous season to a squad that was ranked No. 10 in the region and No. 75 in that nation.

The Illini continued to see significant improvement during Lama's eight years. In 2003-04 the Illini went 17-6, posting their best winning percentage since Illinois's first team went 6-0 in 1975. Lama's 2003-04 squad also earned the highest national ranking in program history, No. 16. In 2003, the Orange and Blue knocked off top-ranked Duke, 4-3, at the UI Atkins Tennis Center.

Lama's teams reached a number of milestones during his eight years in Champaign-Urbana. The Illini won their first NCAA Tournament match in May 2001. The program also had their first Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the Rookie of the Year in the Midwest Region, ten All-Big Ten players, four Big Ten Medal of Honor players, 13 ITA Scholar-Athletes and two Academic All-Americans. UI's women's tennis players earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition 39 times under Lama.

During Lama's eight years at Illinois, the Illini went 108-84 with a Big Ten record of 60-34. He produced squads that made five NCAA team tournament appearances as well as five NCAA individual tournament appearances.

Before his stint at Illinois, Lama served as the top assistant under then-Florida coach Andy Brandi from 1995-98, helping the Gators win two NCAA titles, three SEC crowns and post three undefeated dual match seasons, including the 1998 campaign. Lama was honored for his contributions as the 1997 ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year in the South Region.

Prior to Florida, Lama was the Senior Staff Professional at the Van Der Meer Tennis Center in Hilton Head, S.C., where he worked with the elite player development program (for touring pros and top junior players) from 1992-95. A noted teacher and clinician, Lama has worked at tennis camps across the United States, Europe and Asia. He has earned the highest certification level with the USPTR and the USPTA, and is a USTA Certified High Performance Coach.

He was a traveling coach on the WTA tour for several players including two top twenty ranked Amanda Coetzer (South Africa) and Naoko Sawamatsu (Japan). Lama has coached at 12 grand slam events including Wimbledon, U.S Open, Australian Open and French Open.

In his playing career, Lama was the top-ranked player in Nepal from 1989-91 and reached No. 50 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior world singles rankings. He represented his country in several international tournaments, including the Asian Games in Beijing, China in 1990.

In his playing career, Lama was the top-ranked player in Nepal from 1989-91 and reached No. 50 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior world singles rankings. He represented his country in several international tournaments, including the Asian Games in Beijing, China in 1990.

The Nepal native attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, from 1988-92 and was a two-time Volvo Collegiate All-American in singles (1991-92). He also earned Senior Player of the Year honors in the Midwest Region in 1992 and was ranked No. 5 in NCAA Division III singles. Lama dominated the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference the four years he competed at Luther.

He won the league's singles and doubles titles and took conference MVP honors all four years of his collegiate career, leading his team to four IIAC titles. Lama put together a career singles record of 104-18 and captured two Rolex Midwest Regionals (1989 and 1991), while advancing to the semifinals of the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship in 1991. Lama also made three NCAA Tournament appearances. He was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame in the fall of 2002.

He earned his bachelor's degree in Public Communications/Political Science from Luther College in 1992, earning GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors during his time there. He was the recipient of the U.S./Nepal Educational Foundation Scholarship from 1990-92. Lama has traveled in more than 50 countries and is fluent in English, German, Hindi and Nepalese. He has lived five or more years on three continents (Asia, Europe and North America).

Recently, Lama has lent his time and expertise to a unique venture he calls "Project Nepal". He has helped raise over $12,000 each year to fund the education of 67 orphanage children in his hometown of Nepal (www.supportprojectnepal.com).

Lama and his wife, Lynne, reside in Denton with their 12-year-old daughter, Priya, and seven-year-old son, Siddhartha.

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