Former D-II tennis champ finds fit at her third school

Alice Patch transferred to Temple from Armstrong State University after the 2016-17 season.

Junior Alice Patch practices at the Legacy Tennis Center in East Falls on Feb. 13. Temple is the third university where Patch has played in the past three years. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When Alice Patch moved to the United States for college from her home in England, she expected it to be a challenge.

But she didn’t expect to be at her third school by her junior season.

Patch played for Utah State University in Fall 2015 as a freshman before transferring to Division II Armstrong State University in Spring 2016. Now, she is in her first season at Temple.

“For me, Utah was a tough atmosphere,” Patch said. “I just flat out wasn’t comfortable there. So I ended up transferring after my first full semester and just really started loving playing tennis again when I got to Armstrong State.”

Patch compiled more than 30 wins in both singles and doubles during her three semesters at Armstrong State. During the 2016-17 academic year, Armstrong State announced its decision to cut all of its sports programs as it consolidated with Georgia Southern University.

That’s when coach Steve Mauro recruited Patch to join the Owls. Per NCAA rules, Patch did not have to miss a year of competition because she transferred from a Division II school to a Division I school. She has a 1-2 record in singles and a 1-1 mark in doubles this spring.

“I had seen that [Armstrong State] had built a pretty good program down in Georgia, and they played some really good competition,” Mauro said. “I looked into the results she was getting against the competition and thought that Alice could definitely be a contributor to our team.”

Both of Patch’s victories came during the Owls’ (1-4, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) season-opening win against Morgan State University on Jan. 19. She didn’t play in Temple’s loss to George Washington University on Feb. 3, but she returned to the lineup on Saturday. Patch lost her singles match in the Owls’ 4-0 loss to conference opponent East Carolina.

Patch isn’t the only player who transferred to Temple from Armstrong State. Junior Alberto Caceres Casas also joined the Owls after the school cut its athletic programs.

Patch came to Temple from a nationally ranked Division II program. The Armstrong State team that Patch joined midseason was coming off a Division II title.

Patch won all 14 of her doubles matches with Armstrong State in 2016, won a singles match during the Pirates’ Peach Belt Conference Championship and helped the Pirates repeat as Division II champions.

“Alice was a great talent for us to bring into an already great roster looking to defend our national title,” said Sean McCaffery, the former Armstrong State coach who now coaches at Georgia Southern. “She came in and contributed a lot, even as a second-semester freshman in a whole new school. She clicked with the team almost right away.”

In Patch’s first full season at Armstrong State, her team lost in the Division II semifinals and finished the season ranked fifth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

“Everything was just fun at Armstrong, from the players to the great coaching staff,” Patch said. “I had a great time while I was there.”

After spending her past three semesters at Armstrong State, Patch is ready to stick at Temple to close her college career.

“I’m comfortable with everyone here, and I love the city,” Patch said. “I’ve moved around a lot in a short period of time since coming to America, but I hope I found a place to stay.”

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