Q & A With Cal Women's Tennis Head Coach Amanda Augustus
CalBears.CSTV.com: While you were a player, did you ever think you would one day return to Cal as the head coach?
Amanda Augustus: When I got to Cal, after about six months the whole experience of tennis as a team sport was something I valued highly, I was very excited about and obviously enjoyed my entire experience. Somewhere along that line in the first year I thought, `you know I would really like to, at some point, be in a position to come back and give back what I learned.' It's funny - did I think that it would happen? Well, it's been a long strange trip.
Q: What was it that drew you back to Cal?
A: Obviously, I had a tremendous experience here as a player and student. I'm from southern California so the opportunity to be closer to my family and friends and the challenge of leading a top-five program professionally is exciting. I have always been up for a challenge in whatever I have done, so I think, `come on, it's the best public university in the country.' It's a great place.
Q: What was your experience in 2006-2007 as head coach of Michigan women's tennis like?
A: I think Michigan and Cal have a lot of similarities: a large public school, a strong and intelligent student population, and they are also very committed to their athletics. At Michigan I had a great experience and a great team. We got to the finals in the Big Ten championships and had players on the All-Big-Ten team and we achieved the highest national ranking in ten years (No. 22). I think the players responded well to some changes in coaching and new things, and it was a fun year. Everyone was great and supportive and I will miss them a whole lot. It was nothing but a great year.
Q: Former head coach Jan has been a fixture of Cal women's tennis for 29 years. Tell us about the legacy she has left.
A: As far as Cal women's tennis is concerned, Jan espouses everything that it is. She brought the program to where it is today, a perennial top-five national championship contender, and that's all due to Jan. I have nothing but the utmost respect for everything she has done and everything she started here at a time when women's tennis wasn't the highest priority as it was elsewhere in the country and really made it a premiere sport at a premiere public institution. It's amazing what she has done and that's why I am so honored to carry on her legacy but I know I have really big shoes to fill.
Q: What are some of the attributes and philosophies of Coach Brogan that have helped you in your tennis and coaching career?
A: Jan's approach is sort of a holistic education of the players. She works with her players on the court as tennis players, and she supports her players in their pursuit of whatever academic degree they choose to get from Cal. She also supports their personal development in becoming independent, mature young women by the time they graduate from Cal. I think that philosophy is something I believe in strongly, and as a player of hers, all that teaching has allowed me to go on and achieve the dreams that I had and many of her former players in whatever field it is whether it's in tennis, law, business, medicine, and she has so many examples of all of the players that achieved great things. I can pick a million things of her overarching philosophy of how she coached, taught or guided that I think is the best word. It's something I will try to aspire to as I coach here.
Q: How would you most like to leave your mark on the Cal women's tennis program?
A: First and foremost, you come here to graduate from Cal and I want to continue a 100 percent graduation rate of my players. I think that is the first piece of why people come to Cal. Secondly, I would like to get the team to No. 1 in the country, and we're at No. 5. It doesn't look like it's a lot, but going from five to one is a long trip and winning the NCAA team title is obviously something that Jan is always striving for and that is something I want to do. Then, hopefully, Cal is building a new tennis building at some point. That's another project I will be working on while I am here because I know that was another big goal for Jan.
Q: What are some goals for the women's tennis program you would like to achieve over the next few seasons?
A: The first goal is obviously maintaining what has been working here. Jan has 29 years of history so preserving history and putting my own spin on things, and obviously there are short-term goals like winning the Pac-10 title. There are a lot of girls who want to be All-American, All-Pac-10, but I think when you come into a new program, being in the top 5 in the country are goals that do not change. When you have a new group, how they go about it and what their short term goals are may vary, but these are highly motivated young women on the court and in the classrooms. I think a lot of it comes from the group too as well as me.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest challenge coming in as the new head coach for Cal?
A: Everyone has expectations from all of the years with Jan, which I'm fine with. But while Jan is a mentor to me and was my coach, I am different from Jan so there are some things I will do differently. I think the first challenge is the team adjusting to a new coaching staff.
Q: Describe playing tennis professionally on the Women's Tennis Association tour.
A: It was a great experience. I learned a lot about different cultures and met people from all over the world and traveled, but it's hard and it's a job. The most common misconception is when people think you just travel and play a little tennis. It's a full time job and you have to be really committed to it and take the ups and downs, and when you play for awhile like five or six years like I did, you have to have the right team around you and be fully committed. That whole time, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I had some great wins and tough loses is part of it, but it was great and I made friends from all over the world.
Q: Tell us about one of the proudest moments of your tennis playing career.
A: Playing in the Grand Slam was pretty special and getting to the second round of the French Open and beating a seed in the first round. Those are goals that you strive for, or having a top 100 ranking in the world is something that is special. Obviously certain matches stand out in your mind, but for me as a player, I'd always wanted to play professionally since I was young and to get that opportunity to play in the U.S. Open and get to travel the world, I would say is the most special part because it's something you work on for so long.
Q: Outside of tennis, what are some of your fondest memories as a student here at Cal?
A: To name a few, the interaction with professors that are doing unbelievably amazing research that is changing the world. Sunday morning's studying at a coffee shop preparing for exams, going to finals at the end of the first semester when it is raining, and the friendships you make in classes. I can say I was always really challenged with my academics and just being able to study what you want to study and learn so much. Its funny coming back and seeing all the places you used to go to hang out and framing them differently as you're older. Just the people that you meet and interact with are something I cherish.