Andy Brandi announced on May 29, 2001 that he was resigning as head coach of the University of Florida women’s tennis program effective July 3, when he will become the Director of Coaching for IMG Academies.
Over the past decade, the University of Florida tennis program has experienced unprecedented success on and off the court. The man responsible for guiding the Gator program over that time span is Andy Brandi. Brandi, who is the elder statesman of the UF athletic coaching staff after guiding the Gators for the past 17 seasons, owns the highest winning percentage in Division I collegiate tennis with a career record of 460 wins and 43 losses and ranks among the top-five all-time for coaching wins in NCAA history.
During the 1998-99 season, Brandi became the quickest coach to record 400 career victories, as he reached the milestone just 435 matches into his 15 th season with the Gators. He joined only four other coaches at that distinguished plateau.
On March 31, 2001, Brandi collected his 450 th career win with the Gator’s 6-1 victory against Texas in Austin. In 1996, he joined an exclusive club of 11 active coaches that had earned 300 career victories.
His teams have savored numerous victories and tournament crowns, including three NCAA Championships (1992, ‘96 & ‘98), six National Indoor Championships (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997 & 1999) and six undefeated regular seasons (1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997 & 1998).
In 1996, Florida became only the second team in history to sweep all three NCAA Championships, as the Gators captured the team, singles and doubles titles. The Gators have also collected 12 Southeastern Conference crowns, dropping only three regular-season league matches during Brandi’s tenure. Over the last 14 years (the 2001 season is not included here), the team has finished amongst the top five in the country every season, including a No. 1 regular season ranking on 27 occasions.
In individual play, Brandi has coached players to 18 grand slam championship titles. The recruitment of Lisa Raymond, the premier junior player in the nation in 1991, delivered incalculable awards, including four grand slam titles - three in a single season, a first-ever feat, by a man or woman in collegiate tennis. Raymond also became the first Gator professional Grand Slam champion, when she and her mixed doubles partner won the 1996 U.S. Open title. Raymond later added the 1999 Wimbledon mixed doubles and 2000 Australian Open women’s doubles crowns to her collection.
Undoubtedly, few coaches anywhere can match the credentials of the tenured Brandi. Once a competitive juniors and collegiate player, the Puerto Rico native, has successfully progressed through the coaching ranks as well.
In addition to Raymond’s success during her rookie campaign at Florida, Brandi also tutored Andrea Farley, Halle Cioffi, Shaun Stafford and, most recently, Stephanie Nickitas to grand slam titles in their freshman seasons. Farley won the 1989 National Clay Courts, while Cioffi captured the 1988 ROLEX National Indoors title. Stafford earned the National Clay Court crown in 1986. Nickitas claimed the NCAA and ROLEX National Indoors doubles titles, compiling a school-record 41 wins against one loss. In 1987, Brandi coached the tandem of Jill Hetherington and Cathy Goodrich to the 1987 ROLEX National Indoors doubles crown.
Adding to the championships, many of Brandi’s players have received various national honors for their success. Raymond (1992 and 1993), Cioffi (1989) and Jill Craybas (1996) were chosen Tennis Magazine Player of the Year. Four Gators have been voted National Rookie of the Year in Shaun Stafford (1987), Halle Cioffi (1988), Lisa Raymond (1992) and Dawn Buth (1995). Three players have been recognized as National Unsung Player of the Year in Tammy Whittington (1987), Siobhan Nicholson (1988) and Holly Danforth (1991). Nicole Arendt was chosen as the National Senior Player of the Year in 1991.
In addition, Stafford (1988), Raymond (1992 & 1993) and Craybas (1996) won the prestigious HONDA Award for Tennis. Holly Lloyd was selected as 1990 NCAA Woman of the Year for the state of Florida.
But, athletic accomplishments have only been a part of the high standards Brandi has set during his tenure.
Since Brandi’s arrival in 1985, 30 UF netters have been recognized on the SEC Academic Honor Roll on 53 occasions. In addition, seven Gators have received CoSIDA/GTE Academic All-America honors: Dawn Buth (1998), Divya Merchant (1996 & ‘97), Stephanie Nickitas (1997 & ’99), Erika Kuttler (1994), Andrea Farley (1993), Holly Lloyd (1991, 1992) and M.C. White (1999).
“The academic honors are very important to me and to this team,” Brandi said. “It shows how accountable this team is to being student-athletes and how well they conform to their responsibili-ties.”
The Gators women’s tennis team holds the record for the highest semester grade point average of any UF team in school history - breaking their own record twice over the past six school years.
The dedication and success of Andy Brandi teams has not gone by unnoticed. In September 1996 and 1998, he earned Coach of the Year honors from the United States Professional Tennis Registry, recognizing teaching excellence in the sport of tennis. In 1989 and 1996, Brandi was voted the Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year. In 1988, he was named USPTA Coach of the Year. He also was awarded Coach of the Year for the region in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1996, and SEC in 1987, 1988, 1993, 1996 and 1998.
Brandi is involved in and supports the Ronald McDonald House through Shands Hospital in Gainesville. The UF coach, along with men’s coach Ian Duvenhage, has helped raise over $35,000 by playing host to a Pro-Am Tournament at the Varsity Courts. Brandi played a major role in attracting world-ranked tennis players for the 1991 event, including Jim Courier and Jay Berger - the featured exhibition match.
Brandi’s connection to the professional ranks involves work with such players as Nicole Arendt, Carling Bassett-Seguso, Jay Berger, Pam Casale, Halle Cioffi, Jill Hetherington, Lisa Raymond, Kathy Rinaldi, Shaun Stafford-Beckish, Tammy Whittington, Joey Rive, John Ross, Jill Craybas and Dawn Buth.
As a professional coach of touring professionals, he has traveled to Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, the Australian Open and major tournaments in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada and South America. During the summer of 1989, Brandi coached the Wellington Aces, a team of professionals competing in the Domino’s Pizza Tennis Team League.
In October of 1998, Brandi guided the U.S. team in the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy Match, which competes annually against England.
In 1987, he was selected to coach the Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior teams, as well as the Junior Whitman Cup and Siosbault Cup teams. Brandi also is a former executive director of the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy.
Brandi’s coaching career has placed him in eight states and the Dominican Republic. Between 1972 and 1983, he served as a camp director, head pro and private pro for over 12 different clubs and academies. In fact, in 1972, he was a private pro to former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller at his estate in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Brandi began playing tennis at the age of eight as a Welby Van Horn protégé. He achieved a junior national ranking in 12s, 14s and 18s and under divisions. Brandi then accepted an athletic scholar-ship to Trinity University, a traditional tennis powerhouse, and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He went on to compete professionally in the United States, Europe and South America.
Brandi’s expertise, diverse background and training has provided several journalistic opportunities. He has written several instructional articles for publications such as Tennis magazine and has served as a guest columnist for Stan Smith’s syndicated column.
The 48-year old seasoned veteran is fluent in Spanish and English, and speaks French and Italian. He enjoys golf, reading and W.C. Fields movies. In addition to his other interests, Brandi studies Tae Kwon Do and Wado Kai.
Brandi and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of 18-year old son, Christopher Andres, who is a nationally ranked player himself. Christopher recently signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and athletic career at Texas Christian University beginning in the Fall of 2001. Nancy is actively involved in the Lady Gator Booster Board. Brandi’s father, Jose, also resides in Gainesville and is an active member of the Lady Gator Tennis Booster Club.
The Brandi File
Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year
U.S. Professional Tennis Registry Coach of the Year
1988, 1996, 1998
South Region Coach of the Year
1988, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998
Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year
1987, 1988, 1993, 1996
Southeastern Conference Titles:
14 National Indoor Team Championships: 6 (1989, ’91, ’92, ’96, ’98, ’99)
NCAA Championships: 3 (1992, ’96, ’98)
|DNP = Did not participate|
Did You Know...
That every freshman that has played four seasons under Andy Brandi since 1985...
*has played for the national title during their careers
*has been part of at least three SEC Championship squads during their careers
*earned All-SEC honors during their careers
Since 1985, Andy Brandi has coached...
*11 student-athletes to 22 Grand Slam titles
*three student-athletes to four Honda Awards for Tennis
*25 student-athletes to 64 All-America honors
*30 student-athletes have earned SEC Academic Honor Roll status 53 times
*36 student-athletes to 100 All-SEC honors
|Entering the 2001 Season|
|All-Time Winningest Coaches, by Percentage|
|All-Time Career Victories, by Wins|
|NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Coaches with 400 Victories
* Quickest to Reach the Milestone *
|No. of matches
to reach 400
|Coaching season & year
400 wins was reached
|Andy Brandi||Florida||400-35||435 matches||15, April 2, 1999|
|Frank Brennan*||Stanford||400-44||444 matches||18, 1997|
|Lin Loring||Indiana||400-87||487 matches||18 (14th at IU), 1991|
|Jim Schwitters*||Hawaii||400-119||519 matches||20, 1993|
|Jeff Moore||Texas||400-149||549 matches||21 (16th at UT), 1997|