SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Damon Coupe, who helped lead perennial national power Washington to four successive NCAA Championships appearances as associate head coach, was named by Cal Poly Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman as head coach of the Mustang women’s tennis program on Tuesday.
Coupe succeeds Hugh Bream (2001-11), who retired in June after posting a 133-89 mark in dual matches and guiding Cal Poly to the 2003 and 2011 NCAA Championships.
“I’m excited to welcome Damon Coupe to the Mustang family. When determining what characteristics we needed in a new head coach, we had to look no further than our retiring head coach, Hugh Bream,” Oberhelman said of Coupe. “Damon and Hugh share the same expectations of athletic and academic excellence and providing student-athletes with a first-class Division I experience. I have no doubt that the women’s tennis program will accomplish great things under Damon’s leadership.”
During his time with Washington (2007-11), Coupe helped transform a program on the periphery of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings into a squad that reached as high as No. 23 in 2010. Coupe, who oversaw the development of All-America selections Denise Dy and Venise Chan, earned ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year and Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year praise in 2009 after helping the Huskies reach the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships. In addition to player development, Coupe’s duties at Washington included recruiting, budget management, fundraising and scheduling.
“I look forward to continuing the winning tradition that Hugh Bream has developed,” Coupe said. “We have a tremendous group of women who have a strong will to compete, work hard and have fun together. This is an exciting time for Mustang tennis and I’m thrilled to be a part of the Mustang family. Once again, I would like to thank Don Oberhelman for this opportunity to lead Cal Poly.”
Coupe arrived at Washington after serving as the associate head coach at California during the 2006-07 campaign. With Coupe, California reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, finished the spring No. 5 in the ITA rankings and, individually, produced three All-America singles selections and one All-America doubles team selection. Additionally, California’s three doubles teams and five of the program’s six singles players finished in the ITA rankings.
Coupe enjoyed a fruitful two-year stint as head coach at Santa Clara (2004-06) where he helped the Broncos to their first ITA ranking and a program-record 16 victories during his first season.
Coupe’s collegiate coaching career began during the 2001-02 season as an assistant with men’s program at Sacramento State. Elevated to interim head coach midway through the year, Coupe directed the Hornets to a Big Sky Conference title and a berth in the NCAA Championships. Coupe, a top-three singles player at Sacramento State (1993-96), then served two years as the assistant coach with Fresno State (2002-04). During his first season, Fresno State advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships and posted a 17-8 duals mark. Fresno State reached the NCAA Championships again the next season and climbed as high as No. 30 in the ITA rankings.
Cal Poly is expected to return six players from a 2011 spring squad that produced, arguably, the program’s finest season at the Division I level. Powered by a program-record nine-match winning streak between Feb. 20 and April 2, Cal Poly reached as high as No. 36 in the ITA rankings en route to an at-large berth in the NCAA Championships. Cal Poly’s seven Big West victories helped the Mustangs to a share of the conference regular season title while a further seven overall wins came against ranked opposition.