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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Andy Brandi Leaves USTA for LSU; Craig Surprises Top Seed Peliwo in Winston-Salem; WaPo Feature on Brienne Minor; Sportime Tryouts, College Combine

LSU announced today that Andy Brandi and his son, Chris Brandi, have been named co-coaches of the men's program, replacing Jeff Brown, who resigned this spring. Unlike many college hirings, this one doesn't leave a vacancy at another school, but rather at the USTA, where Andy has been employed in Player Development since 2010.  Recently Brandi had been serving as the coordinator of all junior boys tennis, so new USTA head of men's tennis Brian Boland and Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman will have a major vacancy to fill in the next few weeks.

Andy coached the University of Florida women from 1985-2001, winning three NCAA team championships and six National team Indoor titles, so he is well acquainted with the top level of Division I college tennis. His son Chris had served as an assistant at both Baylor and Wake Forest, so he too has experience at college's top level.

The LSU women's team co-coaches Mike and Julia Sell have their own connections with Andy Brandi. The former Julia Scaringe played under Brandi at Florida, while Mike Sell and Brandi were USTA National Coaches together for several years before Sell departed.

I've gotten to know Brandi over the years while covering junior events (he wrote a regular Coaches Q and A column for me when he was in the private sector) and I know the respect he has among all coaches, whether they coach in college, the private sector or for federations.  As excited as LSU undoubtedly is to hire someone of Brandi's resume and stature, the USTA will find it challenging to replace someone with his reputation.

While in Ojai, I interviewed University of Denver graduate Henry Craig about the transition from college to pro tennis, and in observing the Men's Open there, I learned how important those money tournaments are to players trying to fund their own travel on the Pro Circuit.  Craig won that Men's Open, beating top seed Philip Bester of Canada in the final, but he hadn't played a Pro Circuit event since then.

Today at the $25,000 Futures tournament in Winston-Salem, Craig defeated top seed Filip Peliwo of Canada, who had won two Futures in Israel last month and is currently ranked 312 by the ATP, by a 6-3, 7-6(6) score.  Both Peliwo and Craig were born in 1994, but their junior careers were wildly different.  Peliwo made all four junior slam finals in 2012, winning two, and he was the ITF World Junior champion that year. Craig's ITF junior ranked peaked at 278 and he never won an ITF junior event, but in today's match, he was the better player.

No. 2 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the former Tulane star, also was beaten in the first round, dropping a 6-4, 6-4 decision to 34-year-old veteran Jesse Witten, who seldom plays now, with his last Pro Circuit appearance last summer.

The Washington Post spoke with NCAA singles champion Brienne Minor of Michigan about her title for this feature, which focuses on her status as the first African-American woman to win the Division I singles title. I interviewed Minor for this Tennis Recruiting Network article last week.

One of my advertisers, the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, is conducting two events later this month that may be of interest to some of my readers.  Scholarship tryouts are this Saturday, June 17, in Syosset Long Island, with information about registration and the schedule here.  The second annual College Combine is next weekend, June 24 and 25 at the Randall's Island facility.  For more on that event, click here.


College Anyone? said...

University of Minnesota Upcoming Senior, Felix Corwin, upsets Tommy Paul, ( should have been a Georgia Bulldog) in Winston Salem Futures 4,4

John said...

Feel bad for Tommy. Not sure what's going on with him. Think he saw his buds turning pro and wanted to keep up. They are struggling too. He should've played college ball.

Mr Obvious said...

Maybe a coaching change would help Tommy get to the next level?