Peter Wright Earns USTA/ITA Outreach Award
BERKELEY - Peter Wright claimed one of the most prestigious awards in college tennis when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) named the California men's tennis head coach the recipient of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award.
The award is presented each year to a college coach who provides a leadership role in increasing tennis participation throughout his or her community, both on and off campus. Among the USTA/ITA partner programs available to assist coaches in giving back are Campus Kids' Days, Campus QuickStart, Campus Showdowns and Tennis On Campus.
"I am honored and humbled to receive this award," Wright said. "Our players, our staff, and the university play a critical role in the development of the young people in our local community, and it is our obligation to reach out and help wherever we can. Tennis is a wonderful vehicle to accomplish these goals, and the USTA and the ITA have been amazing partners in helping implement these programs."
Wright will receive a travel stipend to attend the 2012 ITA Coaches Convention at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples, Fla., where he will be presented with his award during the ITA Membership and Awards Banquet on Monday, Dec. 17.
Entering his 20th season at the helm of the Cal men's tennis program, Wright has been a model for success on the courts, on campus and in the community. His Golden Bears have made 13 consecutive trips to the NCAA postseason tournament and 18 times in the last 19 years.
Along with his success on the court, Wright and his Golden Bears are extremely active on campus, hosting eight USTA/ITA Campus Showdowns over the years. Wright also started the club tennis program at Cal and in its 20-year history, the club tennis program has become one of the strongest club teams in the country, winning the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship in 2010 and 2012.
Reaching out to the local community, Wright hosts an annual USTA/ITA Campus Kids' Day event that takes place each year at Cal's annual regular-season match against Stanford. Kids who attend the event are treated to free food, promotional gifts and a pre-match clinic with members of the Cal tennis team.
"It's a great program," Wright said. "The more kids we touch in the community and get involved in tennis is just great because that's where our tennis players will come from."
Serving as Vice President of the Youth Tennis Advantage (YTA) - a branch of the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) - Wright helped create an after school tennis and tutoring program for disadvantaged youth called BearTrax. Kids who participate in the program receive on-court coaching from his nationally ranked players. What makes this program special is that Cal students serve as academic tutors and life skill mentors for the kids.
"The guys on my team used to go into some tough neighborhoods to work with kids" Wright said. "It morphed into a five day a week program, bringing kids onto the UC Berkeley campus. It's just so good on so many levels; our professors love it, our chancellor loves it, and most of all the students love it."
Each year, Wright teams up with the USTA to host the Napa Valley Tennis Classic, a tournament that features the top American juniors against some of the top college players.
"It's an opportunity for local kids to play with their next peer group which are college kids," said Wright, who, has also hosted USTA Futures events on the Cal campus as well as two televised "Chang Challenges" featuring Michael Chang - the younger brother of former Cal player Carl Chang - and John McEnroe.
The USTA and ITA selected Wright for this award from a group of USTA Sectional winners that included coaches of teams from different divisions. Award applications are open each year to ITA member varsity coaches from NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior & Community Colleges. The 2012 Northern California winner of the USTA/ITA Sectional Campus & Community Outreach Award, Wright is the first Cal head tennis coach to win the national award.