Ray Anderson announces addition of ASU men's tennis

The move is the latest development in the Sun Devil athletic director's quest to advance Olympic sports

The temperature outside in Tempe Wednesday afternoon was a balmy 102 degrees. Perhaps this was fitting, given that the intensity of Pac-12 men's tennis competition is soon to follow suit. 

ASU Vice President for University Athletics and Athletic Director Ray Anderson announced the reinstatement of men's tennis as a varsity sport at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, effective immediately. 

Anderson and his wife Buffie donated $1 million to the program. 

"It is a beautiful sport, and it knows no bounds in terms of socioeconomic status or ethnicity," Anderson said. "On our watch, it is our goal that no Olympic sport will ever go away." 

Anderson said it is the progam's mission to ensure both men's and women's tennis are both fully endowed. 

"This is going to be a very coveted position," Anderson said of the coaching search, which will begin immediately. 

Both the past and immediate success of the women's program acted as a springboard to heighten the significance of the men's move. 

The Valley is a popular tennis destination, with top junior amateur Nathan Ponwith (who trained with former ASU men's coach Lou Belken) and with the legacy of players like former world No. 1 Helen Jacobs, who won 10 grand slam titles. 

Earlier, ASU women's tennis coach Sheila McInerney was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time in 32 seasons at the helm of the Sun Devils. As of April 26, No. 22 ASU had achieved its best-ever conference record (8-2), and senior Desirae Krawczyk was named to the All-Pac-12 team. Junior Kassidy Jump and senior Ebony Panoho earned honorable mentions. 

"It was a sad day," an emotional McInerney said of when the men's program was dropped in 2008. "Today is a happy day. The way the sport of tennis goes, it's always the boys and girls together. The players know each other, and the best player seem to know the best players." 

 McInerney worked alongside Belken for 26 seasons. Belken and McInerney were among the four ASU head coaches who had served for more than 25 years, with McInerney the only active coach remaining in that group. 

"I think Ray and Buffie's vision for tennis is fantastic," McInerney said.


Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu or follow @StefanJModrich on Twitter.

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