INDIANAPOLIS - Daron Montgomery has decided to step down after nine years as UDM's head women's tennis coach and Sam Poole, who just finished his second season as Montgomery's assistant, will take over the head coaching duties, effective immediately. Titans athletic director Keri Gaither confirmed the staff moves today.
Montgomery, who also serves as UDM's senior associate athletic director, will stay in that capacity, and he will remain involved with both the men's and women's tennis programs as primary administrator. He will supervise both sports and oversee scheduling for the 2009-10 season.
The women's team reached new heights with Montgomery at the helm, culminating in a record-setting 2008-09 campaign during which the Titans set a school mark for wins in a season (15). This year's squad, which finished in third place in the Horizon League standings for the third consecutive season, upset Butler in the 2009 HL tournament semi-finals on its way to the championship match where it was defeated by 12-time defending champion UIC, 4-1. It was Detroit's first-ever appearance in the conference championship match.
"Daron has done a tremendous job with the women's program, elevating it and bringing a high degree of success," Gaither said. "I'm confident that, with the foundation Daron has established, Sam will be able to step in and continue to move Titan women's tennis forward. Sam has been very involved with the women's team as an assistant coach for two years. He's been a great addition and will serve the Titans well as our new head coach.
"I'm also very pleased that Daron has agreed to continue his relationship with tennis and will supervise both Titan tennis programs."
In addition to his role with the women's program, Montgomery also played an instrumental part in reinstating men's tennis at UDM when the sport returned in 2008-09 following a 13-year hiatus. He hired highly-respected Grant Asher to guide the fledgling team as head coach. Asher will continue to serve as assistant coach for the women's program as well.
"Of course it is hard to step aside from coaching - as I've always said, this is about building relationships," noted Montgomery, who rang up 85 victories during his UDM tenure. "What makes college athletics so special are the relationships. But let me be clear - Sam and Grant are absolutely as good as it gets. It's hard to turn the program over to someone after nine years, but the players love Sammy, and I have a lot of confidence in his ability. Sam will work tirelessly to keep this program at the top of the Horizon League moving forward.
"At this time, I need to focus solely on the administrative side of my career - the fundraising, the corporate sponsorship and, right now, Final Four wrap-up. Stepping down from coaching was something Keri and I have discussed for quite a while. It was a difficult decision, but this was the right time for me personally and professionally."
Montgomery's final Titan squad closed out the '09 dual match schedule with a remarkable run, going 13-3 in its final 16 matches, after just a 2-5 start in January and February. Two seniors, Annie Moore and Zeljka Minic, were again recognized by the conference coaches, as Moore was named first-team All-Horizon League at season's end, and Minic second-team. Montgomery's players earned All-League honors a total of 10 times, and 12 Titan netters were ITA All-Academic recipients. Moore and Maria Pandele, who sit first and second, respectively, in the Titan record books for career victories, were both named Horizon League Player of the Year during his tenure. Three of Montgomery's teams earned the Athletic Department's Team Excellence Award for highest overall GPA (2004, '05, '06).
Poole, 30, played collegiately at both Eastern Michigan and Chicago State before earning his degree in Education from Wayne State. The Detroit native works part-time as a tennis pro at Wimbledon Racquet Club in St. Clair Shores, and previously taught tennis at Franklin Athletic Club, indoor home of the Titans, and the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club.
"I am really excited about this, and I look forward to working with Grant to help strengthen the Titan tennis programs. Coaching college tennis is my dream job," Poole said. "I would like to thank Keri Gaither and the University of Detroit Mercy for giving me this head coaching opportunity."
STORY COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT TITANS ATHLETICS