JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (July 9, 2010) - ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins announced Friday that current men's tennis head coach Yaser Zaatini has been named the program's new director of tennis. He will now have direct oversight for both the Buccaneers' men's and women's tennis programs.
Zaatini, a former All-American player for ETSU, has enjoyed an enormous amount of success on the men's side since taking over for Mullins in 2003. The Bucs have won 13 conference championships, made six trips to the NCAA Tournament, and enjoyed NCAA victories over BCS conference schools Notre Dame and Alabama.
Mullins said he hopes Zaatini's track record of success will translate to more championships on the women's side as well. The Bucs were searching for a new women's head coach after former coach Steve Brooks resigned in May.
"We are very excited about the new organizational structure and staffing for our men's and women's tennis programs," Mullins said. "We interviewed several strong candidates to coach our women's team, but taking all aspects of the program into consideration, we felt we had the best available option right here at ETSU. Coach Zaatini has produced a consistently strong, championship-level program, and we think his leadership can create this same level of success annually in our women's program.
"There is a strong foundation and a number of excellent players already in the program. As he completes recruiting for this year, we expect continued success."
Zaatini said he is looking forward to guiding both programs this year.
"It's quite an honor to have this opportunity and solidify my roots at ETSU," Zaatini said. "It will be a huge challenge for us, but I think we have a good plan, a great support staff, and strong players on both the men's and women's teams. Our first goal will be to continue the success Coach Brooks was able to have, and just take that to the next level.
As for the organizational structure of the tennis program, Zaatini will oversee both teams along with assistant coaches Ricardo Rojas and Travis Sandlant. Rojas has spent the last several seasons as a graduate assistant and will assume the role of assistant coach for the men's team, while Sandlant will work as the women's assistant coach after serving as a graduate assistant the last three years. There are also plans to add a graduate assistant position to assist with the women.
The new organizational structure will still help the athletic program realize significant savings during a time when fiscal responsibility is a must.
"It just makes sense with the state of the economy to try to operate with more efficiency and not duplicate functions where it works well," Mullins said. "We think this is a win-win for all."
Zaatini said he is glad to do his part to streamline the program.
"I'm a competitor and like to be on the court, but over the years I've learned to manage my team," he said. "Having two teams may be a challenge, but we want to maintain what we are doing with the men and bring that same success to the women's side. Having Ricardo and Travis, and a graduate assistant coming in will be critical."
ETSU Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator Barbie Breedlove said she believes this move is a positive step for the women's program.
"I believe our women are capable of becoming as successful as our men's tennis program - with conference championships and trips to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis," Breedlove said. "I am very excited about the new direction of our tennis programs. Coach Zaatini, Coach Sandlant and Coach Rojas have my full support and I will do all I can to support their efforts."
For more on ETSU men's and women's tennis, visit ETSUBucs.com.