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Andy and Chris Brandi Take the Reins at LSU

Andy Brandi has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish as a college tennis coach. He has the national titles, the Hall of Fame credentials and the historical winning percentage.

LSU Head Coaches Andy and Chris Brandi
courtesy, Brandi Family
But there was one thing still missing. It was something he talked at length about with his son, Chris, when they discussed a potential return to college tennis.

"I told him the only way I would do it is to have him by my side," Andy said.

Andy's Father's Day present came a few days early this year. On Wednesday, Andy and Chris Brandi were named co-head coaches of the LSU men's tennis program.

The unique collaboration provides Chris with his first college head coaching opportunity and Andy with a chance to remain a daily mentor to his only child.

"This really fell in our lap and we pursued it really hard," Chris said. "Sometimes things are kind of meant to be, and this is one of them."

The Brandis are replacing Jeff Brown, who resigned at LSU in May after 20 years at the helm.

The Tigers are coming off a 10-17 season, including 3-9 in the SEC. LSU hasn't finished above .500 in regular-season conference play since 2008.

In taking over at LSU, the Brandis are returning to familiar territory in the SEC.

As the women's head coach at Florida from 1985-2001, Andy led the Gators to three NCAA titles and six national team indoor championships.

Andy posted a 460-63 overall record in his 17 years as head coach and Florida won 14 SEC titles. His overall winning percentage of 91.5 percent ranks as the highest for any coach in women's college tennis history with at least five years of experience.

Three of his teams had undefeated runs through the season, and three others only lost one match. The program had a 114-match regular-season winning streak and overall winning streaks of 62 and 53 matches.

Andy Brandi is a highly-decorated coach
courtesy, Brandi Family
Andy has spent the last seven years serving as a national coach on the USTA Player Development staff working with some of the top junior boys in the nation.

Chris started his college playing career at TCU before transferring to Florida, where he was an All-American in doubles in 2004 and All-SEC in singles in 2005.

Chris' previous college coaching experience came as an assistant coach at Wake Forest and an assistant coach and assistant director of tennis at Baylor.

The Brandis became interested in the LSU opening after receiving a call from LSU women's co-head coaches Julia and Michael Sell. Julia, who played for Andy at Florida, asked if he knew anyone who would be a good candidate.

"My dad said, 'What about me and Chris?' She was kind of surprised, but oddly enough my dad and I had talked about doing something like this for a long time." Chris said. "But we both said it would have to be the right program and LSU was that program for us."

The Brandis believe LSU has the resources and facilities to return to national prominence.

"LSU has always been a school I have admired. I love the competitiveness about the school and the passion of the fan base. I think the school fits our personality perfectly," Chris said. "We are both very competitive people and don't like to lose. My dad is much worse at that than I am, so I think we will want our guys to be the toughest team in the SEC. We want guys that compete day in and day out and have a lot of fun doing it."

Chris grew up around the tennis courts watching his father coach at Florida. At age 14, he mentioned to his mom that he wanted to become a coach and carry on the family tradition.

"She told me I should tell my dad, so we sat around the kitchen table and I told him," Chris said. "He said, 'I think that is great. I think you would be really good at it,' and encouraged me to pursue it if that was what I wanted."

Andy's opinion about his son's aptitude was reaffirmed years later by some of his colleagues, including Boise State men's coach Greg Patton.

"Greg mentioned to me that the coaches were talking about who they felt would be and up and comer in the world of collegiate tennis and my son's name came into the conversation," Andy said. "They thought he was on the right pathway to be a head coach."

Having his son follow in his footsteps "brings great joy" to Andy and elicits an "ear to ear smile."

"Like they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Andy said. "I think tennis is in his blood. He has been around it since a young age and has a great passion for it. He really has a knack for coaching. It was his calling in life and he realized he can be pretty good at it and do it well."

Coaching together creates an interesting dynamic for the Brandis with few father-son co-coaching examples to follow. Because they share the same general philosophies and tactics, they don't anticipate any major conflicts.

"As a kid it was difficult just to separate our personal relationship from him being my coach. Now obviously I think things are a lot different," Chris said. "For us to work together, the most important thing is for us to have a good relationship. I am sure we will have some small disagreements as coaches, but we are never going to jeopardize our relationship. It's all about finding common ground."

The co-head coaching arrangement will allow Chris' 5-year-old daughter to see her grandparents regularly
courtesy, Brandi Family
As Andy began considering a return to college coaching, the LSU men's program reminded him of his early years at Florida with the women.

"They are very similar pathways. We recognize we have a tremendous opportunity here at LSU," he said. "Obviously, it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of dedication to building a new culture. But I think LSU can become a nationally-recognized program like it was at Florida."

Being co-head coaches allows the Brandis to remain living nearby each other and allows Chris' 5-year-old daughter to see her grandparents regularly.

Amid all the congratulatory messages Andy received once the LSU news was announced, the most heartening compliments came from other fathers.

"There were a few coaches that reached out to me and mentioned how jealous they are because of the opportunity that we are provided to be co-head coaches," Andy said. "It's a dream come true to working alongside your son and creating something that will be a legacy for both of us."


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Colette Lewis has covered topflight junior events as a freelance journalist for over a decade. Read her weekly column, follow her on Twitter, and and find more of her daily commentary at ZooTennis.

Page updated on Sunday, June 18, 2017
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