May 19, 2006
Notre Dame men’s tennis associate head coach Todd Doebler was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Assistant Coach of the Year for the Midwest Region when the organization announced its annual awards recently. It was the second time in the last three seasons that he was recognized as the top assistant in the region.
Doebler – who has turned down a series of Division I head-coaching jobs both to become and remain an Irish assistant – has been a key factor in the 2005-06 Notre Dame team that stands 19-8 and will take on undefeated #1 Georgia on Saturday in the round of 16 of the NCAA Championship. The Irish are currently ranked 18th after peaking at 15th in March (the highest ranking for ND since 2002). Notre Dame suffered a series of difficult early losses – dropping three 4-3 affairs to teams currently ranked in the top 10 in a span of 10 days – but then rattled off 11 consecutive victories (its longest winning streak since 1990) and advanced to the final of the prestigious Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. The Irish also went unbeaten at home for the first time in 32 years (since 1973-74) and qualified a team in the NCAA Doubles Championship for the first time since 2002 and a pair in the NCAA singles tourney for the first time since 1995.
Notre Dame also had a breakthrough fall campaign that Doebler was a key part of. The Irish advanced two players to the singles final of the ITA Midwest Championships for the first time ever, returned to the singles main draw of the ITA All-American Championships, and were one of just two schools with multiple players among the final 16 in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Doebler handled the lion’s share of on-court coaching in all three instances.
The first associate head coach in program history, Doebler is the first Irish assistant to win the regional honor twice, after Andy Zurcher (1997), Michael Morgan (1999), and Billy Pate (2002) were other prior honorees from Notre Dame.
Doebler, in his fourth season at Notre Dame, is now a finalist for ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year – an honor won by Pate (currently the head coach at Alabama) – which will be announced on May 22. The other candidates are Josh Axler (Pennsylvania), Nick Crowell (Florida State), Jeff Clark (Mississippi), Yevgen Bondarchuk (Oklahoma State), Ricardo Rubio (Texas), Morgan Shepherd (Boise State), and David Hodge (Stanford).
Also announced was that Irish junior Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) is the Midwest Region’s nominee for the Rafael Osuna Award, a national honor going to a player who displays sportsmanship, character, excellent academics, and has had outstanding tennis accomplishments.