Amanda Augustus earned ITA Northwest Region and Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in her 14th season at the helm of the Cal women’s tennis team in 2021. Augustus reflects on her team’s Pac-12 tournament championship year and looks ahead to the 2021-22 season.
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Did the 2021 season exceed your expectations?
“When the pandemic ended our season last year, nobody knew what was going on at that point, but we were disappointed. We worked hard with our recruiting, and we had a nice mix of players on that team. We did our best throughout the pandemic, especially in the fall to try to keep everyone connected. Tennis was one of those sports that took place the entire time. Our players were playing all over the world. We had a good idea how deep we were. The hardest part was finding out when we could actually start because a lot of teams around the country practiced and played in the fall. We were one of the few that didn’t and one of only two schools in the Pac-12 that didn’t. We did a good job figuring out how to work our way through that. Other coaches knew that, and that is why we were also happy with what we were able to accomplish.”
Take us back to Julia Rosenqvist’s clinching moment in the Pac-12 tournament championship. What was your - and the team’s - immediate reaction?
“Julia is a very special Golden Bear. She was our team captain this year. She cares a lot about the team as well as her own individual development. She is a great student. She is a very good player who has played in the top half of our lineup her entire career. For her to break through in that moment was really special. It was one of those matches where the momentum changed many times. She had to work her way back into that match. She was playing a very good player in Elysia Bolton from UCLA. Those are the most special matches whether as a player or coach because she was present-minded as she played, point to point. When you clinch the match, you start to feel that celebration and your teammates come on the court. It was exciting, and we were super proud of her. The emotion on her face and her teammates' faces showed that.”
What are some of your favorite highlights of your team’s NCAA run this year?
“The opportunity to host again in Berkeley was important to us. It is a goal every year for our program. It was great that we were allowed to have some player guests cheer us on. As we entered the NCAA tournament, we returned to more of what we were used to. We took it week by week. Given how we had to start and the parameters that we had to deal with in January, we probably could have been seeded a little higher. We did the best we could with where we ended up being seeded. This group still has a lot more tennis to come. We are glad that we made the round of 16 and enjoyed the experience. We also enjoyed winning a conference championship and are motivated to carry that forward and have a full season next year with almost everyone back.”
What did it mean to you to see six of your players on the All-Pac-12 team and for you to be selected the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the Regional Coach of the Year?
“The selection of those players — our entire starting lineup — reflects the level of this group. That’s why we are excited to showcase our program further going into next season. We have a really deep team. We knew we did. They worked hard at practice and put in the work to get better each week. We felt like we were playing catch-up because we didn’t get to see them in the fall. We did the best we could. It’s a motivated and tight-knit group. They handled the COVID parameters very well. They knew that if we wanted to play the tennis that we wanted to, we had to follow an ever-changing list of things to do and not to do. They handled it well and did well in school. I am proud of that as well. Academics is extremely important to me. It was a difficult and challenging year, and my peers went through the same thing. I appreciate being acknowledged for the work we did this year.”
What are your team’s summer goals and preliminary goals looking ahead to next season?
“When we finish the NCAA Championships, it’s the best time for them to take a break and reflect. They go home, and they play summer tournaments where they are from. They were proud of being in the round of 16. Advancing that far and seeing some of the other teams with different draws that we had beaten or came close to beating, they know that if we do certain things we can be seeded higher, which can lead to a better draw. It leaves them hungry. They want to win more championships — conference and national. When we have our new players join us in the fall, we will sit down as a group and set team goals.”
What does support for Cal tennis mean to your program?
“The biggest thing our donors help with is to allow us to provide a championship-level experience. We are fortunate that a lot of our alums and former players come out and support us. Any size gift helps and is appreciated. These young women work hard on and off the court and represent Cal and the community well. We welcome any support, and hopefully people can acknowledge the conference championship we brought to Cal this year. That’s special given this year, and it’s something positive on campus and in our athletic department. I hope people will see these young women as amazing as they are and support tennis.”