Entering his 26th season at the helm of the California program in 2018-19, Peter Wright has built an impressive resume as the leader of the Golden Bears. Previously the head coach of the Bears, Wright earned the new title of Director of Men’s Tennis after an anonymous gift endowed the head-coaching position in January of 2018.
Wright received his first coaching award in 1994 when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears back to postseason play. More recently, Wright was named the 2016 Pac-12 Coach of the Year after leading Cal to the NCAA semifinals and to its first appearance in the Conference championship match. Wright earned Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1997 and 2001 and has helped the Bears become fixtures in NCAA postseason play since. Wright also claimed the 2012 USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award, for providing a leadership role in increasing tennis participation throughout his community, both on and off campus, and earned induction in 2015 into the USTA Northern California Hall of Fame.
The ninth coach in the long history of Cal tennis, Wright has compiled a 360-239 (.601 winning percentage) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. The 2016-17 Bears finished with a 20-8 record, including a 5-1 Pac-12 record, took second place in the conference regular season and ended the season with an appearance in the NCAA round of 16 in Athens, Georgia. Cal seniors Filip Bergevi, Florian Lakat and Andre Goransson completed their college careers in the NCAA individual tournaments, with the fifth-ranked Bergevi and Lakat reaching the doubles round of 16, Lakat reaching the singles round of 16 and Goransson advancing to the singles round of 32.
Cal earned its share of honors for the 2016-17 season, as Goransson garnered his third Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention, while Bergevi claimed his first. Lakat collected the ITA Northwest Regional Senior Player of the Year Award, junior Billy Griffith earned the regional Player to Watch honor and associate head coach Tyler Browne claimed the regional Assistant Coach of the Year accolade. Lakat also picked up his first singles All-America honor, while Bergevi and Lakat earned doubles All-America status for the second straight season.
Wright’s 2015-16 Bears compiled a 21-7 overall record, including 5-2 mark in the Pac-12 that seeded them third for the Pac-12 Championship. Cal posted strong results at Pac-12 – a 4-0 over Washington in the first round and 4-1 over USC in the semifinals – to reach its first Pac-12 final. The Bears’ NCAA Championship campaign included a round of 16 upset of No. 4 TCU, 4-3, and a quarterfinal upset of No. 5 Ohio State, 4-3, that led to the semifinals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Cal falling to eventual champion Virginia.
Equally lauded for their prowess in the classroom, two of Wright’s Bears – senior Mads Engsted and freshman Ryan Shen – earned ITA Scholar-Athlete status. Engsted also garnered a spot on the 2016 Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team.
In the 2014-15 season, Wright led his Bears to a 19-9 overall record, a 5-2 Pac-12 Conference record, fourth place in the Pac-12 and a run to the NCAA round of 32. The Bears reached the postseason for the16th straight year and 34th overall time. The veteran coach picked up his 300th dual-match victory in Cal’s 7-0 rout of Nevada on March 25 in Berkeley.
Wright also helped to lead the campaign to renovate the Hellman Tennis Complex. The grand reopening of the home of Cal men’s and women’s tennis took place on Jan. 24, 2015, after Wright led his Bears past Mississippi State, 4-2, in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend finale in Berkeley to clinch a berth in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
Wright led the 2013-14 squad to the NCAA round of 16. Along the way the Bears posted a huge upset of 10th-ranked/eighth-seeded Texas A&M on the Aggies’ home courts. Cal knocked off Texas A&M, 4-3, in the round of 32 in the heat and humidity of College Station, Texas. His Bears closed the regular season with a 4-3 Pac-12 record, a No. 4 seed in the conference tournament and an appearance in the Pac-12 semifinals, in which they lost to top-seeded USC. Wright also coached senior Ben McLachlan to the NCAA singles quarterfinals and juniors Gregory Bayaneand Chase Melton to the NCAA doubles quarterfinals, for which all three Bears claimed All-America honors.
Cal’s 2012-13 season ended with a 16-10 overall record (5-1/third in the Pac-12 Conference) and a run to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 for the seventh time under Wright. Juniors Ben McLachlan and Campbell Johnson both played in the NCAA singles tournament, while Johnson paired with senior Christoffer Konigsfeldt in the NCAA doubles field.
In the 2011-12 season, with a 14-12 overall record (4-3/fourth place in the Pac-12), the Bears made their 13th consecutive postseason appearance in the NCAA tournament and the 18th in 19 years under Wright’s guidance. The Bears advanced to the round of 16. Senior Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt earned ITA All-America honors, while Andrews and sophomore Ben McLachlan earned selection to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. Senior Carlos Cueto garnered All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Wright’s 2003 squad completed the season ranked fourth nationally, and boasted two ITA All-Americans and three all-conference selections. That team’s 21-5 record is considered the school’s all-time best record since joining the Pac-10. That year, the Bears finished in second place in conference play, which is California’s best-ever showing in one of the toughest conferences in collegiate men’s tennis. The 2002 season marked the first time that Cal enjoyed a series sweep of UCLA since 1953 and the first time that the Bears beat Stanford, UCLA and USC in the same season.
Under Wright, 16 Cal players have combined to receive 20 ITA All-America selections.
Wright’s tour highlights include appearances at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He represented Ireland in Davis Cup 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.
Wright has served as Chairman of the NCAA Tennis Committee as well as on the Executive Board of Directors of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
Wright’s community involvement includes serving as 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. 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.
A Berkeley native, Wright was born on Dec. 8, 1963, attended Berkeley High School and 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.