Nord, Ascher both named coach of the year



May 2, 2014

Only one day after Grizzly tennis players swept the MVP award, head coaches Steve Ascher and Kris Nord have both been named Big Sky Conference coach of the year.

Nord, who won the award two seasons ago, is the men's coach of the year, while Ascher, who also won the award in 2012, is the women's tennis coach of the year, the conference announced on Friday.

Junior Precious Gbadamosi said one aspect of Ascher's coaching that she really appreciates is the investment he makes in all of his players.

"He puts in so much time, it's crazy," Gbadamosi said. "We do individual practices, and team practices, and he's there all the time. He works so hard to make us better, so it's well deserved.

"He knows where we can be, and what we can do, so he pushes us. He's a great coach."

Ascher guided the Griz to a 9-0 regular season record, including the 4-3 upset win over Sacramento State in March, which broke the Hornets' 112-match winning streak against conference opponents. Sac. State had its revenge last weekend, and clipped UM 4-3 in the tournament championship match.

Ascher's players share the distinct mental-giant characteristic on the court. They don't show frustration or look flustered, they stay even-keeled, and its largely thanks to him. Ascher's ability to teach his players how to respond to different situations mentally contributes to both individual and team success.

"Even at practices, he'll bring out articles that we can read to help in certain situations, like if we're down," Gbadamosi said. "We have different mental sessions, where we talk about how mental the game is."

Ascher, who previously coached at Portland State, and was an assistant at Davidson, has taken the women's tennis team from mediocre to dominant in just six short seasons. UM was 8-13 in his first year, and the team has increased its win total every season since he took over.

 

 

The last two years combined, the Griz are 18-1 in regular season conference matches. The Portland, Ore. native has been at the helm of the UM women's team since 2008, a few years after Nord no longer had to coach both the women's and the men's teams.

In 2014, Nord led his team to a Big Sky Championship for the first time in school history. In his 32nd season as men's head coach, Nord's Grizzlies went 9-1 in the regular season, and swept previously unbeaten Weber State 4-0 in the Big Sky title match.

Nord is from Missoula, and played college tennis at UNLV and Boise State. Big Sky MVP Andrew Warren said Nord has helped him learn as much off the court as on the court in his career at UM.

"He always keeps great team morale, and that's one reason we were so successful this year," Warren said. "Kris has helped me out immensely with my game, but I don't think that's the biggest part. It's what I've learned from Kris off the court that also really means a lot to me."

Warren added that Nord knows all the players so well that he can have an impact whether it's during a match, at practice, or not related to tennis at all.

"I'm just going to miss his presence," Warren said. "He's a really nice guy, and he carries himself highly with respect, and he holds you highly with respect, so it makes it easier to hold that respect for yourself, since he has it for you."

Seniors like Warren haven't lost much in their time at UM, as Nord's team is a combined 25-3 in league games the past three seasons. And Nord's success extends to well before when most of his current players were born. His team has made the Big Sky tournament every season since 1990, including eight third-place finishes and three second place finishes.

With Nord and Ascher at the head of UM's tennis programs, both team and player success will, almost undoubtedly, continue to rise.

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