SKILLMAN, NJ (Dec. 5) -- Courtesy of the ITA: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association and United States Tennis Association have named veteran head coaches Peter Wright and Chuck Willenborg as recipients of two of the most prestigious awards in college tennis.
Wright of the University of California, Berkeley is the winner of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award, while Johns Hopkins University’s Willenborg has earned the honor of being the 2012 USTA/ITA National Campus QuickStart Provider of the Year.
Both coaches will receive a travel stipend to attend the 2012 ITA Coaches Convention at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples, Fla., where they will be presented with their awards during the ITA Membership and Awards Banquet on Monday, December 17th.
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 which takes place each year at their 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” states Wright. “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” said Wright. “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 and John McEnroe.
“Winning this award is exciting, humbling and completely unexpected” enthused Wright, “but I think for me it’s great that my work is noticed within the ITA and USTA because it’s a big part of what I’ve been doing which is developing players; juniors, collegians, and professionals.”
Like Wright, Willenborg has seen a great deal of success on and off the tennis courts as the Director of Tennis at Johns Hopkins University. Since taking over the Johns Hopkins tennis programs, Willenborg has guided the Blue Jays to national success, and with a combined 205-63 (.765) record, including a 113-7 (.942) mark in conference play, he is winningest coach in the history of both the men's and women's programs.
Willenborg has played a key leadership role through his efforts with 10 and Under Tennis in the Baltimore county area. At the Green Spring Racquet Club, Willenborg has hosted several USTA QuickStart tournaments, workshops, and 10 and Under Tennis Competition Training Centers. Willenborg also coached a Junior Team Tennis squad this past summer, guiding them to the sectional championships.
His efforts in the community go beyond local tennis clubs, providing QuickStart training to over 150 elementary school teachers in the Baltimore County Public School System, which will benefit potentially 5,000 kids this year. “I taught lessons to my kids, videotaped it and gave it to all the physical education teachers to show them how tennis should be taught to younger kids” said Willenborg. He has also played an important role in implementing QuickStart tennis into school lesson plans by helping to write the school curriculum for the entire Baltimore County Public School System.
As a physical education teacher at Villa Cresta elementary school, Willenborg uses the QuickStart program to teach over 600 of his students and next year plans to host a QuickStart tournament for those students. “My coach at the University of Miami, John Hammill, had me come over to the university as a ball boy” said Willenborg. “After spending time there, I knew I wanted to play tennis. Having a college coach reach out and bring me on campus, it made such a big impression on me.”
“I’m just excited to win this really prestigious award” said Willenborg. “I have a ton of respect for ITA and USTA, so being a national winner means a lot especially when all the hard work pays off. It’s very satisfying.”
Wright and Willenborg were selected 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.
2012 USTA/ITA Sectional Campus & Community Outreach Award Winners
USTA Section Coach School
Eastern Shelley George Syracuse University
Mid-Atlantic Chuck Willenborg Johns Hopkins University
Midwest Frank Barnes University of Wisconsin/Whitewater
Northern California Peter Wright University of California, Berkeley
Southern Abby Davis Arkansas Tech University
Southern California Grant Chen UCLA
2012 USTA/ITA Sectional Campus QuickStart Providers of the Year
USTA Section Coach School
Mid-Atlantic Larry Strickland Howard University
Northern California Ryan Redondo University of the Pacific
Pacific Northwest Lisa Hart Washington State
Southern Glen Hunt Faneli University of West Alabama
At-Large Chuck Willenborg Johns Hopkins University
About the USTA/ITA National Awards
The USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach 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.
The USTA/ITA National QuickStart Provider of the Year Award recognizes a college coach who has promoted the 10 and Under Tennis format to elementary school children by hosting QuickStart programs on campus. With smaller racquets, softer balls and shorter courts, 10 and Under Tennis ensures that America's newest tennis players enjoy the sport from their very first forehand.
Past USTA/ITA National Award Recipients
Claire Pollard, Northwestern University (Campus & Community Outreach)
Matt Meredith, Slippery Rock University (QuickStart Provider of the Year)
Brad Pearce, BYU (Campus & Community Outreach)
Derrick Racine, West Florida (QuickStart Provider of the Year)
Kim Gidley, Air Force (Community Service)
Christine Davis, Smith College (Campus Recreation)
Lisa Hart, Washington State (Community Service)
Bill Macom, Florida Tech (Campus Recreation)
Craig Ward, Ouachita Baptist (Community Service)
Steve Wilkinson, Gustavus Adolphus (Campus Recreation)
Chris Young, Wichita State (Community Service)
Dave Shook, Lehigh (Campus Recreation)
Mike Gennette, California Lutheran (Community Service)
Dee Henry, Biola (Campus Recreation)
J. Webb Horton, Florida Gulf Coast (Community Service)
Kai Fong, Lewis-Clark State (Campus Recreation)
Greg Patton, Boise State (Community Service)
Laura Travis, Delaware (Campus Recreation)