Entering her 18th season at the helm of the Tennessee Women's Golf Program, Head Coach Judi Pavon has led Tennessee to unprecedented success, including 10 NCAA Championship appearances in the last 14 years. Announced as UT's head coach in 2000, the former LPGA Tour player and collegiate All-American has brought experience as a student-athlete, coach and professional with a level of enthusiasm and attitude for winning that is contagious and inspiring.
Over the last 17 seasons, the Volunteer golf program has been a force in the Southeastern Conference and on the national level under Pavon. During her career at Rocky Top, the 2006 SEC Coach of the Year has led the Big Orange to 11 NCAA Championship appearances, including four straight berths from 2009-12. The Helena, Mont., native holds the Rocky Top coaching records for head-to-head wins (1,931) and tournament titles (20).
Pavon's charges also have enjoyed individual success both on the golf course and in the classroom. Under Pavon, Vols have been named All-Americans 25 times, garnered All-SEC status on 39 occasions and flourished in the classroom, bringing home 36 WGCA Academic All-America citations. Pavon put three on the WGCA All-Academic list last year, including Anna Newell and Lucia Polo. The success of the program on both the athletic and academic levels should come as no surprise, as Pavon has an extensive golf background that includes a professional career spanning from 1989-94 with two years on the LPGA Tour.
Now in her 18th season, Pavon's looks to add to her success as she leads a talented and young Vol squad. This season, Pavon returns six players, including two seniors, and welcomes two newcomers to a team looking to improve on last season's conference and NCAA Regional finishes.
2016-17 Season Recap
The Vols found success early in 2016-17, charting top-five finishes in all four tournaments of the fall season, including a third place finish at the Maryb S. Kauth Invitational. The Big Orange wasn't quite as strong down the stretch, though, as the team battled tough fields and conditions. Still, the Orange and White completed another season with an overall winning record (87-58-4) and finished seventh at the SEC Championships and eighth at the NCAA Athens Creek Regional.
Highlights from the season included the Vols carding nine top-eight finishes while having a different player lead the lineup each tournament. The Vols entered their 25th consecutive regional tournament with six top-five finishes on the season. Additionally, UT collected 14 top-10 placements individually. Most notably, freshman Micheala Williams carded three birdies on her final four holes of the SEC Championship to move up four spots into a tie for seventh place.
17 Seasons of Excellence
17. En route to earning it's 25th consecutive NCAA Regional bid, five different Tennessee players earned the No. 1 spot in the lineup during the season. Throughout the year, the Vols were led by junior Blakesly Warren who carded a 73.53 average, 12 rounds of par or better and four top-10 finishes. Academically, UT posted a 3.79 GPA to set a new program and Tennessee Athletics record.
16. For the second consecutive year, the Vols distinguished themselves as one of the top women's golf programs in the country, placing 16th at the NCAA Championship under the direction of Pavon. Tennessee was led by sophomore Anna Newell who not only placed 4th at the NCAA Championship, but also earned First Team All-America honors from the Women's Golf Coaches Association. Additionally, Newell set two NCAA records--54-hole record for total strokes (198) and relation to par (-18)--en route to earning the individual title at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.
15. It was a record setting 2014-15 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 Championship. 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 (291.74).
14. 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.
13. 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.
12. 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.
11. In the 2010-11 season, Pavon led her team to a 13th place finished at the NCAA Championship, while finishing 11th in the conference. The Vols won their third-consecutive Mercedes-Benz 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.
10. In her ten year mark as coach, the 2009-10 season was one of Pavon's most successful campaigns with the Orange and White, as UT won back-to-back tournaments, the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship 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.
9. After Pavon's Vols placed in the top-10 only once in four fall tournaments of the 2008-2009 season, Tennessee reeled off six consecutive top-eight placements en route to the program's eighth national championship appearance. Freshman Nathalie Mansson burst onto the collegiate scene that season by capturing All-East Region, All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team honors, while leading the Vols with the former UT freshman record average of 73.79 (current record of 73.00 was set by Anna Newell in 2014-15).
8. The Vols opened the 2007-08 fall season with two second-place finishes, but struggled to find consistency in the spring, missing the NCAA Championships for the first time in five seasons.
7. In the 2006-07 campaign, Pavon led Tennessee to its fourth consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Marci Turner captured her second All-America award, while sophomore Nicole Smith nabbed her first A-A honor, as the Orange and White capped the season with a 17th-place finish at their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship. Turner also became the second Vol to earn the prestigious Edith Cummings Munson Award given to the All-American with the highest grade point average in the country.
6. Pavon snagged SEC Coach of the Year accolades after leading the Vols to three event titles in 2005-06. The Big Orange took first at the NCAA East Regional and 13th at the NCAA Championship.
5. During the 2004-05 season, Tennessee tied for sixth place at the NCAA Championship, qualifying to the tournament by winning the NCAA West Regional. Additionally, Violeta Retamoza had one of the best seasons in Big Orange history and captured SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC honors.
4. The Vols returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2000 campaign in 2003-04, finishing 11th. Individual achievements included Jessica Shepley earning honorable mention All-America laurels and Violeta Retamoza tying for first at the SEC Championship.
3. To begin the 2002-03 season, Tennessee won three tournament titles, including the Lady Kat Invitational, Auburn Derby, and Lady Boilermaker Invitational. Individually, Violeta Retamoza took the college scene by storm, gaining Second Team All-America accolades. She also joined Jessica Shepley on the All-SEC First Team.
2. In Pavon's second full year as head coach (2001-2002), the Vols won the Alabama Capstone Intercollegiate tournament and finished the season ranked No. 8 for the second straight year. Young-A Yang also capped her career as the first four-time All-American in program history.
1. During the 2000-2001 season, Pavon's first full year as head coach, she guided the Orange and White to back-to-back team victories at the Greenwave Classic and Betsy Rawls Intercollegiate, marking the first time since 1997 that a UT team had accomplished that feat. She also saw her team knock nearly six strokes off the team average and coached Young-A Yang to a fifth place finish at the NCAA Championship.
The Beginning. Pavon took the reigns of the program as interim head coach in 2000. She took Tennessee to Ohio State for the NCAA East Regional and coached the team to a fourth place finish, qualifying them for the NCAA Championship in Sunriver, Ore. The Vols placed fifth at the national tournament, including best in the East Region ahead of perrenial favorite Duke University.
Vols in the Pros, Coaching Ranks
Since Pavon became head coach of the Orange and White in 2000, 16 Vols have competed in the pro ranks, including six who have played on the LPGA Tour.
Playing for Pavon also appears to be a great prep for a career in coaching after an athlete's competitive days wrap up. Carrie Parnaby (formerly Carrie 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. Additionally, two 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 (formerly Holly 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. Most recently, former Tennessee standout Diana Cantu; was named head women's golf coach at the University of Maryland in June of 2014. The move followed a three-year stint as the top assistant coach at Baylor.
Pavon was a Star Student-Athlete Too
Tennessee's unprecedented success under Pavon 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.
Pavon (formerly Schneider) graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama in 1989. At The Capstone, she was a NGCA All-American as a senior and a three-time NGCA Academic All-American. The SEC also tabbed Pavon 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 Championship, Alabama's first appearance ever. She led the club in stroke average her junior and senior seasons.
After her collegiate career wrapped up, Pavon 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
Pavon 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 - the best national tournament finish in Orange and White history (also placed fifth at the 2015 NCAA Championship).
A year later, Pavon was named the Southeast Section Coach of the Year by the LPGA and although the Vols didn't make a return trip to the 2006 NCAA Championship, Yang placed fifth as an individual at the national event and captured First Team All-America honors.
In Pavon'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, Pavon 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 Pavon took over. However, that quickly changed, as UT returned to the national event each of the next four seasons (2004-2007). Heading into this season, Tennessee has cemented itself as a perennial national power, competing at NCAAs in 10 of the last 13 seasons including two regional titles.
Pavon guided the Vols to back-to-back NCAA Championship tournaments for the first time since the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. In 2014-15, the Big Orange finished in fifth place and AJ Newell and Anna Newell earned honorable mention All-America laurels while Anna and Lucia Polo made All-SEC Second Team. Polo was also named the SEC Academic Player of the Year. In 2015-16, Tennessee placed 16th at the tournament and Anna Newell placed fourth, the highest finish by a Vol in program history. Additionally, Newell earned First-Team All-American honors and was named to the All-SEC First Team. Lucia Polo was also named the SEC Academic Player of the Year for the second straight year.
The Pavon Files
As Tennessee's Head Coach
- Past President of the WGCA (Formerly known as NGCA)
- UT Coaching Record for Head-to-Head Wins (1,931)
- UT Coaching Record for Tournament Team Titles (20)
- 11 NCAA Championship appearances
- 2006 SEC Coach of the Year
- 25 All-America Awards
- 39 All-SEC Awards
- 36 Academic All-America Awards
As an LPGA Tour Player
- Competed in five LPGA major championships
- Won the LPGA Southeast Section Championship in 1997
As a Student-Athlete
- Graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama in 1989
- NGCA All-American as a senior
- Three-time NGCA Academic All-American
- First-Team All-SEC selection in 1989
- Paul "Bear" Bryant Student-Athlete of the Year award recipient
- Led Alabama in stroke average as a junior and senior
High School Achievements
- 1984 and 1985 Montana State High School Medalist
- Montana's 1986 and 1989 Amateur Champion
- Inducted into the Montana State Women's Golf Hall of Fame in 1996
- She and her husband, Luis, a former UA golfer, live in Knoxville and are the proud parents of two daughters, Alexa and Maya.
- Born: November 9