On the heel of the biggest Cal Athletics coaching news yesterday, I figure I will use this week’s post to mention a couple of coaching changes that may have flown under the radar this past fall.
Before I get there, I will reiterate this. Justin Wilcox’s extension and success as the Football head coach have a drastic impact on the entire health of the Cal Athletics department. the most realistic (alone?) way for Cal to financially maintain the full 30-team program does require Football to become as successful as other major state flagship schools.
New Cal Men’s Tennis Coach is Kris Kwinta
The lone program really hit hard by COVID last year was Cal Men’s Tennis, who stopped play roughly a year ago at the end of January and never returned to action.
It was announced in August that Peter Wright has retired as the Director of Men’s Tennis. Wright has been at the helm of Cal Men’s Tennis for 29-years. Wright (’91) was also one of several current Cal Olympic Sports head coaches (along with Rugby, Men’s Golf, Men’s Crew, Women’s Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Field Hockey, and Softball) who was also a Cal alum.
While Cal Men’s Tennis has had a long history of success, winning singles and doubles championships when Cal Football was making semi-regular appearances in the Rose Bowl almost 100 years ago in the mid-1920s, the program has been solidly in the top-16 nationally annually without winning national titles. Won the two ITA National Indoor team titles by Cal came back in 1980 and 1989.
With the Australian Open currently in progress, two of Wright’s former players are in the doubles draw – 2020 Tokyo Calympian Ben McLachlan (who has represented New Zealand then Japan internationally) and Swedish Davis Cup team member Andre Goransson.
Even without the big prize of winning the NCAA championship, Peter Wright had been an important and steady influence on the program, particularly getting the Hellman Tennis Complex renovated a few years ago. Wright’s Cal legacy is further secured as donations have named the endowed coaching position after him.
In late October, it was announced that Kris Kwinta has been named the new
“Peter Wright Director of Men’s Tennis”. Kwinta is a UCLA alum who had been coaching at the more recently successful programs of UCLA and then USC. He has been the Associate Head Coach at USC since 2014.
Kwinta won the 2005 NCAA championship with UCLA, where he was the championship clincher in a 4-3 victory. In a sport where the top players are often international, Kwinta also had been a former member of the Polish National Team.
After playing as individuals in the fall, Cal had their first dual meet as a team at Tulsa a week ago. Golden Bears won 4-3 on the road.
Cal was edged 4-3 at Tulane to fall to 1-1 on the very young season.
The 2021-22 Cal Men’s Tennis roster looks very different from just a year ago, when the Bears graduated the previously ranked No.1 recruiting class in the country that dominated the roster. No.1 singles player Yuta Kikuchi, now a senior, is the lone familiar name from a couple of years ago. Philip Hjorth, a transfer from Pacific who was on the Cal roster last year, is now the new No.2. Freshman Carl Emil Overbeck played as the No.3. Both Hjorth and Overbeck hail from Denmark. Not too surprisingly, there is virtually no expectation for this Cal squad in the polls.
Cal fans can check out all of the newcomers, both players and coaches, in person this Saturday when the Bears host SMC in the first home meet of the new regime.
Cal Diving head coach position is vacant again
Back in July, I was on the hype train that Cal Diving might be ready to take off with the hiring of Oleg Andriyuk from Stanford’s club team. Andriyuk’s Cal reign has been quite short, unfortunately. A few months later in mid-October, Andriyuk has apparently resigned due to “health reasons”.
No further details are available that I can find on this coaching change. Andriyuk has the pedigree of coaching Stanford alum and USA Olympic Bronze medalist Kristian Ipsen.
With the NCAA awarding the team titles for Swimming AND Diving annually, Cal Diving has held Cal Swimming back in NCAA Championships annually, particularly for the Cal men against Texas, where 3 of the 21 events are in diving.
The current listed Interim Cal Diving coach is Murphy Bromberg, a very young coaching upstart who won the NCAA platform title with Texas in 2019. Samantha “Murphy” Bromberg had qualified originally for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in synchronized diving but lost her spot after the postponement As an individual, Bromberg came up just short of making both the 2016 and the delayed 2021 Olympic games.
SO excited to have qualified The USA a spot in the Olympic Games and to have earned ourselves a World Championships bronze medal!! YAY!!!
Still crushed, shocked and confused. But so so lucky to be surrounded by the most incredible friends and family and ready to see what’s next!
Diving, thank you for everything🥂
Unless Bromberg somehow has a surprise extra year of eligibility to be a player-coach (although I believe she has retired from diving), the more pertinent news about Cal Diving in 2022 is the lack of new names on the roster in a year full of last minute transfers across all sports.
On the men’s side, Tyler Wesson looks to rebound from a disappointing debut season as a Bear after showing promise in his lone season at Cal Poly. Sophomore Max Valasek is the lone other diver on the roster.
For the Cal women, Francesca Colby and Lara Phipps are the newcomers to join junior Cassie Graham. Briana Thai, who qualified for the NCAA Championship but did not score points, has graduated from the team that placed last (not counting Washington State who does not have diving) at the Pac-12 Championships last year in diving despite Cal winning the conference crown .
I do not believe Cal Diving has competed yet this school year. Both the Cal men and women will have their first dual meets of the season this weekend, where diving should be included.
Even if Bromberg turned out to be a coaching prodigy, one would think Cal will find another experienced head coach as the missing piece of the crown jewel that is Cal Aquatics within Cal Olympic Sports. It is back to the drawing board for Cal Athletics to find a worthy head coach after all the money that went into Legends Aquatic Center to add a platform diving facility on campus.