Friday, June 26, 2020

Cal men add Matta, doubles star Ram to coaching staff

   The University of California, Berkeley men lost a highly regarded assistant coach but added two coaches with impressive credentials.
   Two weeks after announcing that longtime Cal assistant Tyler Browne was leaving to become the director of racquet sports at the nearby Orinda Country Club, Bears director of men's tennis Peter Wright recently replaced Browne with accomplished Horacio Matta and named pro doubles star Rajeev Ram as a volunteer assistant coach.
   Matta has worked with Chile's Davis Cup team and coached at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. He coached Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu, both former top-10 players in the world, and current world No. 18 Cristian Garin. All four men are from Chile.
   Massu, who now coaches world No. 3 Dominic Thiem, swept the singles and doubles gold medals, teaming with Gonzalez, in the 2014 Olympics in Athens. Gonzalez earned the singles silver medal in the 2018 Games in Beijing, falling to Rafael Nadal.
   Matta also worked with San Francisco Bay Area products CiCi Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, and Michaela Gordon, a Stanford senior who plays No. 1 singles for the two-time defending NCAA champion Cardinal.
   Matta, the father of former Cal player Gunther Matta, served as a volunteer assistant coach at Stanford in 2019-20.
   "Horacio's Davis Cup coaching experience coupled with having coached former top-10 players Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu – and most recently ATP top-20 player Cristian Garin – give him a unique player-development perspective not found on any other college campus in America," Wright said in a news release.
   Ram, 36, is ranked ninth in the world in doubles after winning the Australian Open with Joe Salisbury of Great Britain in January and climbing to a career-high of No. 5 the following month.
   It was Ram's 58th Grand Slam tournament in doubles, breaking the Open Era (since-1968) record for most attempts before winning a major men's doubles title. He also won the mixed doubles crown in the 2019 Australian Open with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
   Ram owns 20 titles in doubles, including San Jose, Calif., in 2011 with ex-Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky, and two in singles, in Newport, R.I., on grass in 2009 and 2015, on the ATP Tour.
   Ram peaked at No. 56 in singles in 2016 before switching to doubles full-time the following year. He reached the singles final in the 2006 Sacramento, Calif., Challenger, losing to Paul Goldstein, now the men's head coach at Stanford.
   In the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Ram teamed with Venus Williams to claim the silver medal in mixed doubles. As an Illinois freshman in 2003, he led the Illini to the NCAA team championship and paired with Brian Wilson to win the NCAA doubles crown before turning pro.
   Ram was born in Denver, grew up in Carmel, Ind., and owns a home in the Bay Area. After taking online classes, he earned a bachelor's degree in general studies with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences in 2017, according to tennisrecruiting.net. He told the website that has no plans to retire.
   "Rajeev's experience as an NCAA champion, Olympic medalist and Grand Slam champion gives him unparalleled insight into what it takes to be a tennis champion," Wright said. "I'm excited for our players to be working with these incredible coaches, both of whom share a passion for teaching and for building a championship culture."

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