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."
This has been an exceptional week on the pro tour for players with college ties. As of Saturday night we've already seen 22 players with college ties win doubles titles and another 13 finish as runner-up. All of the singles finals will be played on Sunday and they'll definitely be at least two champions since the Futures events in Winston-Salem and Sumter are all-college finals. I'll have a full recap of all the winners and runner-ups in my Sunday post but I did want to highlight a couple of the big winners on Saturday.
The Skupski Brothers, Ken (LSU '07) and Neal (LSU '12), won the doubles title at the $127K Nottingham (UK) Challenger with a 7-6(1), 2-6, 10-7 win over the No. 2 seeds JP Smith (Tennessee '11) and Matt Reid. The title is Ken's second this year and 45th of his career while it's Neal's third of the year and 22nd of his career. As a doubles team its the Skupski's 16th career title (15 Challengers/1 Futures).
James Cerretani (Brown '04) and Max Schnur (Columbia '15) won the doubles title at the $127K Caltanissetta (Italy) Challenger with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 win over Denys Molchanov and Franko Skugor. The title is Schnur's second this year and 11th of his career while it's Cerretani's second this year and 29th of his career. As a doubles team it's Cerretani and Schnur's second career title with both coming at the Challenger-level.
Sander Gille (East Tennessee St '12) and Joran Vliegen (East Carolina '14) won the doubles title at the $64K Lyon (France) Challenger with a tough 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 14-12 win over Gero Kretschmer and Alexander Satschko. Gille and Vliegen trailed 7-6, 3-1 before taking three straight games to take only their second lead of the match. After taking the second set in a tiebreak, Gille and Vliegen jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set super-tiebreak but Kretschmer and Satschko evened it at 4-4. The STB stayed close with Gille and Vliegen fighting off match points at 9-8 and 11-10 before they finally got the mini-break to go up 13-12 then they closed it out 14-12. Gille and Vliegen have won 21 doubles titles as a team with 19 of them coming at the Futures-level and the other two including this one at the Challenger-level.
While many players with college ties are playing in ITF pro events or ATP Challengers there are also some that are playing in local money tournaments where they payouts are in many cases better than the lower-level Futures events. The Pearson Ford Open at Woodstock Club in Indianapolis is one of those money events that has not only attracted several players with college ties but it also landed former ATP #7 Mardy Fish.
Fish told the Indy Star
a few days ago that he was playing again to get his competitive juices flowing and that he also expected to win the tournament but recent Valparaiso graduate Jeffrey Schorsch made sure the latter part of that statement didn't happen. Schorsch, who went 27-6 during his senior season at Valpo, pulled off the upset on Saturday with a long 6-4, 6-7(11), 7-6(1) win. Schorsch had a chance to close out the match in straight sets after leading 6-4, 5-3 but Fish got it back on serve and then fought off three match points to take the second set tiebreak 13-11. Schorsch managed to hang in there in the third set and once it got to a tiebreak he rolled 7-1. Thanks to Fred Emhardt for the in-match updates on Twitter!
Schorsch will meet Ohio State rising senior Mikael Torpegaard in Sunday's final after Torpegaard defeated Illinois rising sophomore Zeke Clark 6-4, 7-5. Schorsch and Torpegaard will also meet in the doubles final with Schorsch teaming up with his college doubles partner Charlie Emhardt while Torpegaard will team up with his former Ohio State teammate Hugo Di Feo.
The winner of the singles draw gets $3500 while the runner-up takes home $1750. The doubles winners split $1700 while the runner-ups split $850. Full results from the event are available at this link
For those that aren't as familiar with Schorsch I encourage you to listen to this podcast
that he did with David Beilinson. Schorsch, who was a TRN 4-star recruit coming out of high school, talks about his time at Valpo, which schools recruited him, and his pro aspirations.
Schorsch and his doubles partner Charlie Emhardt also set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise funds so they can compete on the pro tour. If you'd like to help these two recent college graduates here is the link for that GoFundMe