Cal-Berkeley Men’s Tennis Coach Wins ITA Service Award

November 20, 2017

TEMPE, Ariz. – Peter Wright, the University of California, Berkeley men’s tennis head coach, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the ITA Meritorious Service Award, presented by ConantLeadership.

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The ITA Meritorious Service Award is given annually in recognition of an ITA coach who has gone “above and beyond” in their commitment and contributions to the ITA and college tennis in general. As part of receiving the Meritorious Service Award, Wright, courtesy of the ITA and ConantLeadership, will attend the 2018 Rolex Enshrinement Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island, where Wright will be recognized during the International Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

“On behalf of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, we are honored to recognize one of our sport’s top coaches in Peter Wright with the 2017 ITA Meritorious Service Award, presented by ConantLeadership,” said ITA Chief Executive Officer Timothy Russell. “For many years, Peter has been a respected voice in the tennis world and leading advocate for all that is great in our sport. A creative strategic thinker, our Association has been greatly enhanced by Coach Wright’s presence over the years on ITA regional and national committees, as well as our Board of Directors. In addition, he’s guided the Golden Bears to tremendous success on the court. The ITA thanks Peter for his leadership and service, and would like to thank ConantLeadership for its support of college tennis and presenting Peter with such a prestigious honor, the ITA Meritorious Service Award.”

The ninth head coach in the history of Cal men’s tennis, Wright has compiled a 328-221 (.597 winning percentage) career record during his tenure, and most recently, was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2016 after leading the Golden Bears to the NCAA semifinals and first appearance in the Pac-12 Conference championship match.

“I was humbled to have been considered for the ITA Meritorious Service Award, much less win it,” said Wright, who served as the Chairman of the NCAA Tennis Committee from 2003-07. “I’m extremely grateful to ConantLeadership and the ITA for making me this year’s honoree. When I look at the previous honorees of this prestigious award, Dave Fish, Ann Lebedeff and Sheila McInerney, I see people who have dedicated their lives to being great teachers, mentors, coaches and thought leaders in our sport. I am deeply honored to be in their company.

“I owe a tremendous debt to my mentors and fellow coaches who have inspired and guided me throughout my career – people like my coach, Bill Wright, Dick Gould, Dave Fish, David Benjamin, and many others, said Wright. “Their passion for coaching and helping make college tennis better motivated me to serve on ITA, NCAA, and USTA committees to learn more about how our sport operates on the junior, collegiate, and professional levels.”

Wright, the 1997 and 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, was instrumental in helping lead the campaign to renovate the Hellman Tennis Complex on the Berkeley campus. The grand re-opening of the home of Cal men’s and women’s tennis took place on January 24, 2015, after Wright led the Bears past Mississippi State 4-2 in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend finale to clinch a berth in the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship.

Serving as the vice president of Youth Tennis Advantage, whose organizational mission is to inspire inner-city kids to achieve their full potential through tennis and academic programs, Wright has been active in community engagement efforts. In 2001, he established the Bear Trax program at Cal, which brings YTA children from Oakland to the Berkeley campus for academic tutoring with Cal students and tennis instruction with the Golden Bear men’s and women’s teams.

“It says that the ITA Meritorious Service Award will be given annually in recognition of an ITA coach who has gone “above and beyond” in his/her commitment and contributions to the ITA and college tennis in general,” said Tom Jacobs, Atlantic 10 Conference Senior Associate Commissioner/COO. “I can think of no one more deserving than Peter Wright to receive this prestigious award from the ITA in recognition of his outstanding service and contributions to the wonderful sport of college tennis.

“Peter has been a leader in constantly looking for ways to improve the sport and the experience for the student-athlete. Whether in his role as the men’s tennis coach at Cal, his work with the ITA, NCAA, and USTA, Peter has always been passionate, innovative and has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the sport on behalf of all of those who love and care about it. He has been instrumental in leading and helping to make positive changes with the ITA and NCAA. He has definitely gone “above and beyond” and college tennis is better for it.”

Prior to his move into coaching, Wright enjoyed a successful professional tennis career. He made appearances at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and held an ATP Tour ranking for 10 years. He represented Ireland in Davis Cup play from 1988-95 and served as Irish Davis Cup Captain from 1995-2003. Wright also served as the Head Coach for Ireland at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

A Berkeley native, Wright earned a B.A. in Social Science from Cal. His wife of 23 years, Fionnuala, is a former Irish national tennis champion and a former member of the Irish national basketball team. The Wrights currently reside in Berkeley with their sons, Thomas and Michael, and daughter, Carly.