Cris James is set to begin his third season as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Notre Dame men's tennis team in 2015-16. James came to Notre Dame after a six-year stint as the head coach of Illinois State University's men's tennis team.
In James' first campaign with the Fighting Irish in 2012-13, the team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2007. After defeating Green Bay in the first round, the Irish beat No. 38 Ole Miss, 4-2, to advance to the Round of 16 in Athens, Georgia, where they fell to No. 4 seed Virginia, 4-1.
Notre Dame opened the 2013-14 season ranked 29th in the country in the initial Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team poll but quickly climbed in the rankings after opening the season 6-0. During that season-opening undefeated streak, the Fighting Irish toppled four higher-ranked teams. The Irish reached a season-high national ranking of sixth on February 25. They finished the season ranked 13th, the second-highest finish for the program since 1992.
In their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, the Irish recieved a bye and bested Clemson 4-2 in the quarterfinal round to advance to the semifinals. There, Notre Dame fell to eventual conference champion Virginia.
Early in the season, the Irish also advanced to the ITA National Indoor Championship for the first time since 2008. Despite falling to then-No. 1 Virginia in the first round, the Irish went on to beat No. 9 Mississippi State and No. 12 Florida in the consolation rounds.
Following their performances in the ACC Championship, three Notre Dame players were selected to all-ACC teams. Senior Greg Andrews was named First Team All-ACC, while senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Quentin Monaghan were Third team All-ACC picks. Andrews qualified for the NCAA Singles Championship for the third straight year and advanced to the Round of 32 for the second time. He and sophomore partner Alex Lawson also qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Both Andrews and freshman Eddy Covalschi received the program's first weekly ACC honors. Covalschi was named ACC Player of the Week Jan. 28 after his clinching victory over Ryuji Hirooka led the Irish to an upset of No. 8 Kentucky on the road. Andrews was named Co-ACC Player of the Week Feb. 18 after his victory over Florian Lakat clinched Notre Dame's win over No. 9 Mississippi State at the ITA National Indoors.
Off the court, Andrews was named the ITA Midwest Most Improved Senior of the Year and the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award Winner. Following those honors, the ITA announced Andrews as the national Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award Winner. Andrews is only the third Notre Dame player to receive this award in program history, and the first winner since 1995.
In 2015, junior Quentin Monaghan became the first Irish All-American since 2007 (Stephen Bass), and 19th in program history. Monaghan turned in a historic season for the Irish, finishing with a No. 7 ranking in the final Oracle/ITA singles rankings (third-highest in program history), earning a top 16 seed into the NCAA Singles Championships and advancing to the national singles semifinals. In advancing to the final four, Monaghan became the first Irish player to do so since the team and individual tournaments became separate in 1977, and just the third to do so at all.
Monaghan was named the ITA Midwest Player to Watch following the season and was selected to play in two elite tournaments during the fall of his senior year: the Oracle/ITA Masters tournament and the American Collegiate Invitational. The inaugural ITA Masters will feature 16 of the nation's best players in the first national collegiate championship of the 2015-16 season. The American Collegiate Invitational field will be made up of eight elite athletes competing for a wild card entry into the 2016 US Open and will be held during the second week of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
James also saw stellar play out of junior Lawson and senior Billy Pecor in 2015, as the pair was ranked among the nation's top 15 throughout the season and earned a spot at both the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in the fall and to the NCAA Doubles Championships to end the year.
Under James' charge, Illinois State appeared in the national rankings (2010) for the first time since 2001. The year culminated in James being named the Missouri Valley Coach of the Year after leading the squad to the regular season championship.
Before leading the ISU program, James got his college coaching start as an assistant tennis coach at his alma mater, Purdue University.
As a player at the collegiate level, James was a three-time all-Big Ten and academic all-Big Ten performer and a three-time team MVP. A team captain, James reached a high of No. 26 nationally in singles and No. 7 in doubles. He won three professional futures doubles tournaments and earned professional rankings in both singles and doubles.
He owns two degrees from Purdue, a Bachelor of Science in political science in 1999 and a Master of Science in sports management in 2007.
Following graduation, James served as the assistant tennis professional at the University of Alberta Tennis Center for seven years before returning to Purdue.
James resides in the South Bend area with his wife, Emily, and their son, Jack.