High School girls Tennis: Gibson handed keys to powerful Salpointe program

New Salpointe coach Theresa Gibson works with sophomore Ivana Martinez. "By being a teacher at Salpointe it helps because I get to see the girls all day long," Gibson said.


It is never an easy task replacing a coach who won six state titles in the last nine years.

Theresa Gibson, however, is up for the challenge.

Gibson replaced Perri Touché as the Salpointe Catholic girls tennis coach this year. Touché retired after last season after coaching the team for 14 years.

"It's going to be tough," Gibson said. "I got to know (Touché) when I coached at Tucson High so we got to be good friends."

So far this season, Gibson has guided Salpointe to an undefeated record heading into a much-anticipated match today at Phoenix Xavier.

Gibson, 62, has been coaching tennis off and on for the past 20 years, dating to when she lived in Ohio.

The Star recently caught up with Gibson to learn more about the new Lancers coach.

• Switching teams: Gibson coached at Tucson High before taking over the Lancers program, which proved a bit tricky. While she was coaching the Badgers, she also taught at Salpointe.

When the opportunity arose for her to become the Lancers coach, it gave her a chance to stay at Salpointe and not have to commute between schools - something she'd been doing for the past five years.

"I liked coaching at Tucson High, but it is easier this way," Gibson said.

The transition to her new team has been easy. She already knew the players from her time in the classroom.

"By being a teacher at Salpointe it helps because I get to see the girls all day long," she said.

• Coaching friends: Gibson and Touché are no strangers to each other. The two first met about 10 years ago when Gibson first started coaching in Tucson.

"We were very close friends right away," Gibson said. "We both love tennis and are really interested in the girls. We enjoy seeing them improve and do well."

Touché approached Gibson last year about taking her place as Salpointe's coach.

This season, the two have remained in contact, with Gibson asking the longtime coach for advice from time to time.

"I defer to her a lot," Gibson said. "I call her, and she helps me out with understanding the teams we are going to play."

• Elite team: Gibson inherits a program that has been one of the best in the state for the past decade.

Since 2004, the Lancers have won six state championships, with their most recent coming in 2011. Gibson has a good mix of returning players and talented underclassmen to work with.

"I think we are going to do well, and we are looking forward to the competition," Gibson said.

Today's match against undefeated Xavier will be the team's first big test of the year.

"We know they are very good," Gibson said. "Our girls are really good as well, and their expectations are to do their best."

By the numbers

Theresa Gibson is replacing Salpointe Catholic girls tennis coach Perri Touché, who went 315-14 over 14 seasons and helped the Lancers win:

• 6 team state titles

• 6 singles state titles

• 5 doubles state titles