International Flavor of Golden Tigers Tennis Stands Out in 2014 Brenau Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee Class
The Class of 2014 inductees into the Brenau University Athletics Hall of Fame – all from the Golden Tigers’ perennial national championship-contending tennis program – includes a retired coach from Scotland, a Hollywood costume designer from Belarus, an accountant from Malaysia and a tennis teacher from France.
“We did not set out to make this an all-tennis group, but that’s just the way it worked out,” Brenau University Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor said. “And, if you ever needed any proof that Brenau University intercollegiate sports have an international flavor, this is it.”
The four will be officially recognized during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Oct. 4 from 12 to 2 p.m. at Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville. Tickets for the open-to-the-public event are $20 each.
Members of the class are Lochstampfor’s old boss, Gordon Leslie, who served as head tennis coach and athletics director until his retirement in 2010, and three former Golden Tigers tennis players – Antonina Grib, Sheau Shan Liew and Laurence Neuville, each of whom accumulated multiple All-American recognition and other honors during their careers at Brenau.
“Everyone who has been involved in small college tennis knows about Brenau University,” said the current head coach, Andre Ferriera. “I certainly knew about Brenau long before I stepped foot on the campus. Brenau Tennis has a tremendous reputation throughout the nation because of its continued success and accomplishments throughout many years. And a large portion of this success is directly attributable to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees.”
Gordon Leslie served as athletic director and head tennis coach from 2004-09. As athletics director he was instrumental in the rapid expansion of Brenau’s intercollegiate athletics programs and development of its infrastructure and addition of coaches capable of leading teams that can compete for national and regional championships – one of whom was Lochstampfor, who in addition to succeeding Leslie as athletics director guided the Tigers soccer team to a No. 16 finish in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rankings. Central in improving the resources for athletics, Leslie also supervised the 2008 construction of the 14,400 square foot indoor tennis facility that hosts two lighted tennis courts. As the coach of a tennis team that before his arrival already had won two national championships, the Scotland-born Leslie amassed a 71-46 overall record with four of his five teams reaching the national tournament. He coached four All-Americans, including Helene Macchi, Zora Gyoreova, Paula Ghilardotti and Lyn See Choo.
Antonina Grib Lerch, originally from Minsk, Belarus, currently splits her time between Tokyo and Los Angeles, where she works as a costume designer/cutter/fitter on award-winning televisions programs like Mad Men, Dexter and True Blood and motion pictures like Night at the Museum. After graduating from Brenau in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, she earned an M.F.A. from the University of Georgia. She was a Golden Tigers tennis player from 2000-02, a three-time NAIA All-American selection and a member of both the 2000 and 2001 teams that were NAIA national runners-up and the 2002 National Championship team. In 2001 and 2002, Grib was named the Marvin P. Richmond Outstanding Player.
Sheau Shan Liew was a four-year player from 1999-02 and was a member of both the 1999 and 2002 National Championship teams. As an individual player, Liew garnered NAIA All-American status during the 1999, 2000 and 2002 seasons. In 2000 and 2001, she captured the NAIA doubles championship while playing with teammates Giana Gutierrez (2000) and Biljana Dimovska (2001). In 2002 Liew was also honored as the ITA Senior Player of the Year. She graduated in 2002 with a B.B.A. in accounting. She is from Kuching, Malaysia, where she currently works as a project manager.
Laurence Neuville, a native of Montpellier, France, who now lives in Paris, earned All-American status in each of her three years as a Golden Tigers tennis player from 1995 through 1997. In 1995 and 1996, Neuville was a member of the NAIA and Superbowl Championship teams. In 1996 Neuville was the NAIA singles champion who – in the words of one writer who covered the final championship match – “displayed a killer instinct with her feathery soft backhand and pinpoint ball placement,” breaking her heavily favored opponent’s serve six times. She also partnered with Aurelie Dubois to capture the doubles national championship. Neuville won the 1996 Marvin P. Richmond Outstanding Player award winner. She graduated from Brenau in 2002 with a B.B.A in business management. After playing on the professional circuit in Mexico, she returned to France and earned a degree so she could teach tennis there. She stopped teaching tennis in 2006 and became a travelling saleswoman for STOF, an interior-design fabrics company, in southern France then in Paris since 2011.
“Brenau was an exceptional and amazing experience in my life,” said Neuville, “and I will always be grateful for this tremendous, life-changing opportunity I had.”
The 2014 group is only the second group of inductees into the Golden Tigers Hall of Fame, created in 2013. The university created the Athletics Hall of Fame to recognize accomplishments of its student-athletes, coaches, administrators and others who have demonstrated outstanding athletic performance and character.
Each class, selected from nominations by Brenau University alumni, is limited to four members. That group is selected by consensus of the Hall of Fame committee, which comprises head coaches, directors and others in the Brenau athletics family.
No more than four Brenau student-athletes who graduated from the institution can be inducted each year. The class may not include more than one coach a year, and that must be a person who worked at the university for a minimum of four years.
According to historian Charles H. “Trey” Wilson III, author of The History of Brenau University, 1878-2012,” the university’s participation in intercollegiate athletics began 1927 when Brenau Women’s College students faced a female team from North Georgia College in a basketball game. After decades flagging interest and lack of support, the intercollegiate competition resumed in the late 1970s and early ‘80s with the establishment of swimming and tennis programs.
Currently there are Golden Tigers teams competing in both of those sports as well as basketball, volleyball, cross country, track & field, competitive cheerleading, softball and golf involving more than 170 student-athletes.