March 20, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis program has undergone a coaching staff transition, bidding farewell to its current volunteer assistant coach while welcoming back one of its own to fill the vacancy.
Cris James has stepped down from his role on Callaghan Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire’s staff, where he has served since 2013. James and his family will pursue their next chapter in Knoxville, Tennessee, where his wife, Emily, has accepted a position at the University of Tennessee. Sachire will fill James’ role with recent Notre Dame standout Greg Andrews (’14).
Cris James spent nearly four seasons on the Irish staff.
“I honestly can’t thank Cris enough for what he has given to our program over the past three and a half years,” Sachire said. “During that time, Cris served as an incredible mentor to our student-athletes and played a fundamental role in every aspect of Fighting Irish tennis. His passion, selflessness and positive demeanor every day made all of us around him better, and he will be sorely missed. We wish Cris and his family the very best in this next chapter of their lives, and they will forever be a part of our Notre Dame Tennis family.”
In his nearly four seasons with the Irish, James helped tutor two-time All-American Quentin Monaghan and 2016 doubles All-American Alex Lawson, as well as 10 all-conference selections. The Irish reached the NCAA Championships in each season with James on staff, including an appearance in the Round of 16 in 2014.
Andrews returns to an Irish program of which he was a two-time captain just three seasons ago. During his career, Andrews reached a No. 20 national ranking in singles and a No. 7 national ranking in doubles. He ranks second in program history in dual doubles wins (68); third in overall doubles wins (93); fifth in dual singles wins (77) and wins at No. 1 singles (38); and seventh in all-time singles wins (113).
Andrews was a two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year (2012 and 2013) and, as a junior, was selected as the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player after leading the Irish to their final championship title in that conference. He was a four-time all-conference selection (three BIG EAST, one Atlantic Coast Conference), was a 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-American and the winner of the 2014 National ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award.
As a senior, Andrews was recognized by Notre Dame with both the Byron V. Kanaley Award and the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award. The Kanaley Award is Notre Dame’s most prestigious honor awarded to Irish student-athletes and is presented annually to senior monogram athletes who are most exemplary as students and leaders. The Francis Patrick O’Connor Award is presented upon nomination of head coaches and is given to one male and one female student-athlete who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contribution and inspiration to their teams and who possess such characteristics as caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience.
“What an exciting moment to be able to bring back to Notre Dame a person the quality of Greg Andrews,” Sachire said. “I have not coached a better representative of the goals and values that we have as a program, and I am excited to see the influence that Greg has on our current and future players. Greg will play an integral role and, undoubtedly, make positive impact on every aspect of Fighting Irish tennis moving forward.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2014, Andrews earned his Master of Science in Accounting from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in 2015. He then went on to work at Deloitte in Atlanta until returning to Notre Dame this spring.
“This is certainly a bittersweet time for our program,” Sachire said of the transition. “Bitter in the sense that all of us love Cris and are sad to see him move on from Notre Dame. Cris made a tremendous impact here, and we are extremely grateful for all that he gave to our program. However, we are also excited at the opportunity to bring such a winner back into our program. Greg will be a star in this profession, and we are all looking forward to having his influence present on a daily basis.”
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.