Griz Central News

May 1, 2014 12:31 PM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports

UM mens tennis marks a first

MISSOULA - The Big Sky Conference started playing men's tennis 50 years ago, and in that time Montana had never claimed a league title - until last Sunday.

Our Athletes of the Week came through in California with a 4-0 championship sweep over Weber State. Five Grizzly seniors could finally celebrate, after losing in the title contest the last two years.

But the players admitted they weren't playing for their own pride, they wanted to win one for their coach. Kris Nord has led the program for 32 seasons - and now he's finally on top of the Big Sky.

"Kris is a great person as well as a great coach. So I think first of all we were more happy for him, before we were happy for us," sophomore Semion Branzburg said.

"For me personally as an international student, Kris means something more than just a coach. So I'm very happy. I've never seen him that happy before, when we clinched. So it was great," added senior Mikolaj Caruk.

"It was a lot of emotions. A lot of players that have contributed to this over the years - building our program. And the miles we've driven and flown, and the practice hours - everything that kind of peaked at that point. But it was certainly an enormous payoff, and it was well worth the wait," Nord concluded.

Nord and the Grizzlies get a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time where they'll meet the #2 team in the country, Oklahoma, on May 10.

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