They’re filling different positions, but Mandan’s new girls tennis coaches are by no means newcomers.
Paul Christen, the current boys tennis coach, and veteran junior high coach Megan Hanson were named co-coaches of the girls program on Tuesday.
Christen is entering his eighth season as the Braves’ boys tennis head coach. He said the impetus for sharing the job came from him and Hanson.
“That came from Megan and I. ... We’ve worked together at the middle school and we felt it would be kind of a comfortable fit at the varsity level, too,” Christen said.
“We’ve worked as a team the last three years at the middle school level and felt like it was a logical transition for us to continue working as a team,” Hanson said.
Both Hanson and Christen played tennis at the University of Mary. Hanson, a Mandan High graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree at U-Mary in 2006. Christen, who is from Williston, graduated from U-Mary in 2005.
“We’ve known each other since we were in high school. ... We played for three years together out at Mary and I coached with her brother, Eric, in Mandan for six years,” Christen said.
Christen, a math teacher, has coached tennis at Mandan since 2006.
Hanson, who teaches social studies, coached in the junior high tennis program while she was a college student. She moved to Wisconsin after finishing college, then returned to Mandan. She began coaching tennis at the junior high level again in the spring of 2010. She’s also Mandan’s sophomore volleyball coach.
“I think they felt comfortable having us to pass (the coaching duties) onto,” Hanson said. “I played in the program and Paul has been a huge name in the tennis program for a long time, so I think they were comfortable when Julie (Neubauer) left that we would be stepping up.”
Neubauer led 17 Mandan teams to the state tournament in her 22 seasons as head coach, finishing as high as third in 2002.
Both Christen and Hanson said they know the players on the girls team well.
“We know the majority of them and what skills they possess,” Christen said.
Hanson said it’s an advantage to be moving up to the varsity along with some of the players she worked with last spring.
“These are girls we’ve been working with for a long time,” She said. “... They’ve got a lot of potential and we’re looking forward to moving up with them,” she said.
Given their history of working together, Lorell Jungling, the Mandan High activities director, said Hanson and Christen should make effective co-coaches.
“Paul and Megan worked together at the middle school level and meshed well together. ... To have both coaches working within the school district makes it easier to connect with the girls,” Jungling said.