Nord stays international to round out roster

Aug. 10, 2012

It started earlier this summer when he added Semion Branzburg, one of Israel's top prep players, to a National Letter of Intent. Perhaps inspired by the Olympic spirit, Montana men's tennis coach Kris Nord stayed international with his second signing as well.

Nord announced recently that Andrew MacFarlane, of Melbourne, Australia, has accepted a scholarship offer and will join the defending Big Sky Conference champions in the fall as a true freshman.

Branzburg is the first recruit from Israel in Nord's three-decade career at Montana. MacFarlane is the second from Australia. Josh Katz, also of Melbourne, played for the Grizzlies in 2005-06 before a wrist injury ended his collegiate career.

"I have been in contact with a coach in Australia for a number of years trying to get more Australian kids over here, because I like their style of play," Nord said.

"They are typically well-rounded and good singles and doubles players. That's their trademark, and Andrew fits that bill. He's a big kid, 6-foot-3, who moves decently well and has a serve that's been clocked at 130 miles per hour.

"He has a great doubles record, so we're hoping he has an immediate impact in that area for us. And I think he can contribute in the middle or bottom end of our singles lineup."

MacFarlane, who considers his strengths to be his serve and forehand, was sold on going to school at Montana after a long phone conversation with Nord and some follow-up investigating.

"I had a long chat on the phone with Kris, and he told me about his program, how they have been doing and about himself," MacFarlane wrote in an email Thursday. "After that I was sold on going to Montana.

"I also did some research on the university, the surroundings and some other people's thoughts on their college experience. What I found made my decision that much easier."



The addition of MacFarlane gives Nord a roster of eight as the Grizzlies approach the fall semester and the team's tournament season. It's a relatively small team for Nord, who likes some depth to guard against injuries, but what he's most seeking is to continue the team's sound chemistry.

The bond that the Grizzlies shared last season resulted in the program's first regular-season Big Sky Conference championship and a perfect 8-0 league record.

The Grizzlies lost three important contributors in Carl Kuschke and Andreas Luczak, who played Nos. 1 and 6 singles, and Ben DeMarois, who teamed with Kuschke in doubles, but a talented group returns.

Senior-to-be Michael Facey and juniors Mikolaj Caruk and Ethan Vaughn were all first-team All-Big Sky Conference selections last spring. Senior Andrew Warren is back as well.

Montana's roster is rounded out by junior Eric Braun, the only Montanan on the roster, and junior Zach Drost.

"It's going to be tough to replace Carl right away. I expect Mikolaj, Andrew, Mike and Ethan to step it up, and the incoming freshmen will need to contribute right away," Nord said.

"But my biggest concern is making sure our team chemistry remains the same, because in my mind that's been our strength. It's a long season, and we need to get along well and support each other. But both Semion and Andrew come in with great character references."

He is 8,600 miles away, and player and coach have never met in person, but what MacFarlane writes should help ease any of Nord's concerns.

"I'm really looking forward to contributing positively both on and off the court and competing for the Grizzlies," he wrote.

"I hope to be a solid team member who can regularly be relied on for good results and a person who will be focused on accomplishing the aims of the team."

Montana will open its 2012-13 schedule at the three-day Montana State Open in Bozeman in mid-September.

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