BY DENNIS CHASE firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Annie Murphy, who led the St. Francis boys tennis team to three consecutive top-six finishes in Division IV, has stepped down.
She’ll be replaced by Paul Bandrowski.
Murphy cited “personal and family reasons” for her decision. She will stay on to assist Bandrowski.
“I can’t be as committed (from a time standpoint),” she said. “I needed more flexibility.
“I’m still going to be involved. We’re just transitioning. It’s a good thing.”
Murphy coached the Gladiators to seven Lake Michigan Conference championships and four regional crowns in her eight seasons. St. Francis qualified for the state finals the last seven seasons.
“She has been a role model, a friend, and a second mom to so many of the boys that have had the opportunity to play tennis for her,” athletic director Tom Hardy said. “She will be greatly missed, not only as a coach but as a role model of what it truly means to live our motto of the 3 Cs — character, commitment, and compassion.”
Bandrowski said he’ll have “big shoes to fill.”
“Thankfully,” he added, “I’m not losing her.”
Bandrowski moves up after developing the varsity feeder program at the junior high level.
“We’ve grown that program from six kids the first year to 85 (boys and girls) last year,” he said.
Hardy said Bandrowski is a “great fit” for the job.
“Paul is no stranger to tennis as he is an avid player and member of the USTA,” Hardy said. “Paul not only brings a strong tennis background to the position, but he also has a strong sense of who our players are as he has built middle school programs for both our boys and girls players at St. Elizabeth.
“When you look to hire a coach to take over a program that has grown in numbers like ours has, it is very important to have someone that understands who your student-athletes are. Paul has a true passion for the student, not just their abilities on the courts they will be playing on. “
Mary Harrigan started the Gladiator program in 1991. Bandrowski said his goal is to keep it moving forward.
“We’ll continue to grow and develop it,” he said.
St. Francis loses six seniors off last season’s team that finished sixth in the state. All the singles players return.
“In Division IV, the key to long term success is numbers, depth,” Bandrowski said. “If you can build a deep program and get a lot of athletic kids interested, you’re going to have success.”
St. Francis is in the process of hiring a new JV coach. Bandrowski said his goal is integrate the JV and varsity programs.