The last vacant Power Five head coaching position was filled on Friday when Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle announced the hiring of Catrina Thompson as the new women's head coach of the Gophers. Thompson comes to Minneapolis from South Bend where she has been the women's assistant coach for the last four years. Thompson played at Notre Dame from 2003 to 2007 and also coached at Yale and Boise State. Thompson replaces Chuck Merzbacher who retired after 28 years as a head coach with the final five coming at Minnesota. Below are some quotes from Minnesota's recap:

"As an assistant coach, Catrina has contributed to significant academic and athletic success for her student-athletes during the past seven seasons. She is a person of great substance, and her dedication to the total collegiate experience is exactly what we want from all of our head coaches," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Catrina was an All-American and a professional athlete before becoming a coach. She's competed, coached and won at the highest levels. That experience will serve her and our student-athletes well."

"I am thrilled to be a part of the Gopher family. I am looking forward to helping Gopher student-athletes develop and reach their goals on and off the court, and also building on the success and tradition that the University of Minnesota embodies," said Thompson. "I am humbled by this incredible opportunity with which I have been entrusted. I want to thank Mark and everyone at Minnesota for this honor and responsibility, and I'd also like to thank Jay Louderback and Beck Roghaar for their mentorship throughout my college coaching career."

Thursday, 15 June 2017 08:44

Thursday Pro Circuit Update

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There are three pro events this week in the United States and all three have a slew of players with college ties that are still in the draw as the weekend approaches. In Winston-Salem, seven of the eight singles quarterfinalists and all four of the doubles finalists have college ties. Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks and 2012 Georgia Tech graduate Kevin King advanced to the doubles finals where they'll meet USC rising sophomores Brandon Holt and Riley Smith.

Eubanks, King, and Holt also advanced to the singles quarterfinals with King getting a walkover win over the No. 3 seed Christian Harrison. Holt came back from 5-3 down in the third to defeat Wake Forest's Borna Gojo 7-5, 6-7, 7-5. Gojo served for the match and had a pair of match points at 5-4 (40/15) but Holt won four straight to break for 5-5 and then broke again at love to close it out. Eubanks won a pair of tiebreak sets over 2016 Denver graduate Henry Craig. There were no breaks of serve in the match and in fact there was only one break point which came when Craig served at 5-6 (30/40) in the first set. 

Another big coaching opening was filled as LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva named Andy Brandi and his son Chris as the men's co-head coaches of the Tigers. Andy has plenty of coaching experience in the SEC after spending 17 exceptional seasons as the women's head coach at Florida from 1984 to 2001. During those 17 seasons, Andy won three NCAA Championships while his teams won 91% of its matches and lost zero SEC home matches! After Andy left Florida he served as Director of Tennis at the IMG Academy for five years and then most recently he was a national coach on the USTA Player Development staff.

Chris Brandi played collegiately at TCU and Florida from 2001 to 2005 and then was an assistant coach at Wake Forest in 2008 and at Baylor from 2009-2011; most recently he was a private tennis coach in Florida. Andy and Chris Brandi replace Jeff Brown who stepped down after 15 seasons. Below are some quotes from LSU's release:

For the second time in the last three weeks Virginia director of athletics Craig Littlepage welcomed in a new head tennis coach. The day after the NCAA team championships he named Andres Pedroso as the director of tennis and head men's coach and today he named Sara Anundsen O’Leary as the new women’s head coach. O'Leary comes to Charlottesville after spending the last three seasons as the women's head coach at Davidson where she led the Wildcats to a 45-21 (.682) record. Prior to coaching at Davidson, O'Leary was an assistant coach at her alma mater, North Carolina,

Prior to this week Michael Venus (LSU '09) had never made it past the round of 16 at a grand slam but today he and Ryan Harrison are French Open doubles champions after the duo defeated Donald Young and Santiago Gonzalez in a tough three-setter. There were no breaks of serve in the first two sets with Venus and Harrison taking the first set 7-6(5) while Young and Gonzalez claimed the second set 7-6(4). In the third and final set, Venus and Harrison broke for 4-2 but Young and Gonzalez broke back in a four-deuce game for 4-3. Venus and Harrison broke again for 5-3 and then Harrison served it out in a one-deuce game to give the guys with Louisiana ties their first grand slam trophy. 

Venus and Harrison split the €660,000 payout which is roughly $739,000 US. There were a couple of good articles written about Venus and his friendship with Harrison. The article from Stuff New Zealand is here and the one from RolandGarros.com is here.  

Michael Venus (LSU '09) and his doubles partner Ryan Harrison advanced to the French Open doubles final with a come from behind three set win over Robert Farah (USC '10) and Juan Sebastian Cabal. Farah and Cabal won the opening set 6-4 with the lone break of serve coming in the third game of the match. Venus and Harrison opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, after breaking for 2-0 in a three-deuce game, and would go on to take the set 6-3. The third and final set stayed on serve until Venus and Harrison broke for 5-4 in a one-deuce game and then they served it out in a two-deuce game to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. 

If Venus and Harrison can defeat Donald Young and Santiago Gonzalez in Saturday's final it'd be the second straight major for a guy with college ties after John Peers (Baylor '11) won the Australian Open Doubles Championship. 

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