From The Daily: Sixteen And Counting
May 13, 2010
By Mark Morgan
The UW Daily
In the world of athletics, coaches and athletes strive for consistency. Most notably: consistent leadership, performance and results. In his 16th season at the UW, men's tennis head coach Matt Anger has brought those three key elements to a once-struggling program.
Anger will lead the Huskies to their 16th-straight NCAA tournament appearance this Friday in Texas. Under Anger, the UW has qualified for the postseason for 16-straight years.
Anger grew up in Walnut Creek, Calif., and did not attend the University of Washington, yet the Husky tradition runs through his family lines.
'I've got a lot of relatives that came to the UW,' Anger said. 'My mom went to the UW, as well as my grandmother. My great-grandmother graduated in 1905 from the UW.'
The former top-ranked junior player in the world also loved the Northwest, so Washington was a natural fit.
'My wife and I had been here in the Northwest, we loved it, and we were hoping someday it could work out for us to be here and amazingly, it did,' Anger said.
Prior to Anger's arrival, the Washington Huskies were a combined 38-46, having finished in the season-ending rankings just once, at No. 48 in 1994.
Associate head coach Chris Russell, who came to the school after serving as head coach at Oregon for nine seasons (1996-2004), knows all too well what makes Anger such a special coach.
'The reason he's been able to not only attain success, but sustain it, is his daily ability to stay focused on the big picture,' Russell said. 'Things like recruiting, fundraising -- he's got a really good grasp on all of it, and he never loses focus with it. He's a very consistent guy, and he's extremely professional at what he does.'
Russell, who is a former Pac-10, Big West and West Region Coach of the Year, left Oregon after turning the Ducks into one of the conference's top teams. Having Anger as the head coach is something Russell doesn't take for granted.
'I knew coming here that I was walking into the opportunity to work alongside someone who was already very well established and respected in the field,' Russell said. 'Each day he impresses me with how thorough he is, and his thoroughness is one of the things that makes him such a great leader.'
And it's not all about what Anger does on the court, either.
'The other thing is how impressively he manages the student athletes [on a daily basis], and how consistent he is with what he does,' Russell added. 'His energy that he brings on a daily basis is remarkable.'
Raised expectations usually follow success; however, Anger has been able to take the program to new heights along with keeping the program well-rounded.
'I think maybe the greatest thing that keeps us going is that we are not satisfied; we never have been, and we've got more steps to take,' Anger said. 'And we're going to do everything we can do to take them.'
For Anger, 16 seasons here at the UW feel like six. The makeup of the team changes every year, giving each season its own unique feel. Anger added that 'every season is it's own adventure.'
This year's Huskies have created many memories. Specifically, the Huskies' performances on the road this season have impressed Anger. He pointed out a tough 6-1 win at Arizona and another 6-1 win over Minnesota as highlights to the season thus far.
But, as with every year, the losses stand out just as much as the wins do for the head coach.
'Unfortunately, I also remember the losses,' Anger said. 'We had a couple of those matches that I'd like back. I know we were 17-5, and that is nice, but, unfortunately, I still think of those five matches.'
Washington's NCAA tournament journey will start this Saturday in Waco, Texas, where the Huskies will take on Rice in a first-round matchup.
Though 16 consecutive years in the NCAA tournament is an impressive feat, the coaching staff still sees much more potential for the future, in large part due to Anger.
'This program is about ready to launch into new heights,' Russell said. 'This is possible this season without a doubt, but I also see it as a possibility for long term. This program is about ready to do some things that it hasn't done before, success-wise and result-wise. I think the foundation [that Anger has built] is so solid.'