Over A Decade of Success
Over the last decade, the Volunteer golf program has been a constant force in the Southeastern Conference and on the national level under the guidance of Judi Pavόn. Since Pavόn became head coach in 2000, the Big Orange has captured 17 tournament titles, competed at 10 NCAA Championships and been a constant presence in top 25 rankings.
Individually, Vols have captured 27 All-America awards, 55 All-SEC nods and 18 NGCA Academic All-America citations under the tutelage of Pavόn. In the "decade of success" with Pavόn, the Orange and White have continued UT's streak of finishing above .500 in head-to-head matchups and competing at the NCAA Regional Championships every season.
A Helena, Montana native, Pavόn took charge of the Vol golf program after serving as the interim head coach for the final two events of the 1999-2000 season and as an assistant coach on The Hill for three seasons (1997-2000). Before coming to Rocky Top, Pavόn had a standout golf career, playing professionally from 1990-1994 and earning All-America honors as a collegian at Alabama. She and her husband, Luis, a former UA golfer, live in Knoxville with their two daughters, Alexa, who is a sophomore at UT, and Maya.
Another Impressive Season
It was a record setting season for the program as Tennessee made its 23rd consecutive NCAA Regional appearance and finished in a tie for fifth place at the NCAA National Championships. The team won two tournaments in the spring, the Westbrook Springs Invite and SDSU Farms Invite. In every tournament during the spring, the Vols finished in fifth place or better and had 10 top-10 finishes in the 11 team events played in. Records broken included team low round (276), low scores after 36 holes (557), first round low score (276) and team season scoring average (292.64).
Fueled by lone senior Chessey Thomas, the Vols made their 22nd consecutive NCAA Regional appearance during the 2013-14 season. The team captured the 2014 Lady Bulldog championship with Thomas scoring the individual title. UT finished its season with a 16th place finish at the NCAA Washington Regional.
The Vols relied on the solid play of their seniors, Erica Popson and Sara Monberg, to see them through the 2012-13 season. The team had a season-best finish (runner-up) at the Mercedes-Benz Championship while Popson won the FSU Seminole Match Up. UT capped off its season with a ninth place finish at the NCAA Auburn Regional and Popson went on to finish T-29th at the NCAA Championship as an individual.
The Vols collected two tournament victories in 2011-12, winning the LSU Tiger Classic and the Bryan National Intercollegiate. UT came out with a fourth place finish at the NCAA Central Regional, punching a ticket the 11th NCAA Championship appearance in program history where Tennessee finished 19th.
In the 2010-11 season, Pavόn led her team to a 13th place finished at the NCAA Championships, while finishing 11th in the conference. The Vols won its third-consecutive Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championship; Tennessee took the Rebel Intercollegiate title in the spring before placing second at the NCAA West Regional and finishing 13th at NCAAs. Erica Popson nabbed individual medalist honors five times over the course of the season, including the SEC Championship and the NCAA West Regional.
In her ten year mark as coach, the 2009-10 season was one of Pavόn's most successful campaigns with the Orange and White, as UT won back-to-back tournaments, the Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships and the Alamo Invitational, in October to wrap up the fall. Sophomore star Nathalie Mansson nabbed medalist honors at both tournaments, as well, while the Mercedes-Benz win was by a tournament-record 19 strokes.
Vols in the Pros, Coaching Ranks
Since Pavόn became head coach of the Orange and White in 2000, nine Vols have competed in the pro ranks.
Playing for Pavόn also appears to be a great prep for a career in coaching after an athlete's competitive days wrap up. Carrie Parnaby (née Cole), who played at UT from 1998-02 and then was an assistant coach at Rocky Top, was named the head women's golf coach at UTSA in 2008. This past summer, a pair of recent Tennessee grads nabbed coaching positions in the SEC. Golda Johansson Borst was named the head women's golf coach at the University of Kentucky, while Vanderbilt selected Holly Clark (née Cantwell), to be its assistant coach. Borst played at Tennessee from 2002-06 before spending three years as an assistant coach at LSU. Clark played for Tennessee from 2003-07 and was previously the head coach at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.
She Was a Star Student-Athlete Too
Tennessee decade of success under Pavόn should come as no surprise, as not only does she have an extensive coaching background, but she was also a star golfer on the high school, collegiate and professional levels.
Pavόn (formerly Schneider) graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama in 1989. At The Capstone, she was an NGCA All-American as a senior and a three-time NGCA Academic All-American. The SEC also tabbed Pavόn as a first-team all-conference selection in 1989. She claimed two individual titles and qualified as an individual for the NCAA Championships in 1989. Moreover, she was honored with the prestigious Paul "Bear" Bryant Student-Athlete of the Year award. As a team, the Crimson Tide finished ninth at the 1987 NCAA Championships, Alabama's first appearance ever. She led the club in stroke average her junior and senior seasons.
After her collegiate career wrapped up, Pavόn continued her success in the professional ranks, where she competed in five LPGA major championships - the 1992 and 1997 LPGA Championships, 1991 and 1993 U.S. Open and the 1992 duMaurier Championship. She also captured the LPGA Southeast Section Championship in 1997. Overall, she was a member of the LPGA Tour from 1991-92 and competed on the FUTURES Tour in 1990 and 1993-94.
Her career began in Montana, as she became a prep star and captured the 1984 and 1985 Montana State High School titles. Additionally, she was crowned the state's Amateur Champion in 1986 and 1989 and was inducted into the Montana State Women's Golf Hall of Fame in 1996.
Success from the Start
Pavόn has had success from the minute she took over the Vol program as the interim head coach for the final two tournaments of the 1999-00 season. After serving as an assistant since 1997, she took her first team to the NCAA Championships, where it finished fifth - still the best national tournament finish in Orange and White history.
A year later, Pavόn was named the Southeast Section Coach of the Year by the LPGA and although the Vols didn't make a return trip to the NCAA Championships, Yang placed fifth as individual at the national event and captured First Team All-America honors.
InPavόn's second full year as head coach, 2001-02, the Vols finished the season ranked No. 8 for the second straight year. Yang capped her career as the first four-time All-American in program history.
In 2002-03, Tennessee won three tournament titles and freshman Violeta Retamoza took the college scene by storm, gaining Second Team All-America accolades and joining Shepley on the All-SEC First Team.
In a little over three seasons, Pavόn already had led UT to a new-coaching record of six event titles, coached a four-time All-American and led the Vols to their highest placement ever in the national tournament.
Despite the success, the Vols failed to qualify as a team to the NCAA Championship in the three years after Pavόn took over. However, that quickly changed, as UT returned to the national event each of the next four seasons. Heading into this season, Tennessee has cemented itself as a perennial national power, competing at NCAAs in nine of the last 12 seasons including two regional titles.
Pavόn guided the Vols back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2012 campaign in 2014-15, where they finished T5th. Individual achievements continued as well, with AJ Newell and Anna Newell earning honorable mention All-America laurels and Anna and Lucia Polo making All-SEC Second Team. Polo was also named the SEC Academic Player of the Year.
|Past President of the NGCA|
|UT Coaching Record for Head-to-Head Wins (1,704)|
|UT Coaching Record for Tournament Team Titles (17)|
|2006 SEC Coach of the Year|
|27 All-America Awards|
|55 All-SEC Awards|
|22 Academic All-America Awards|