June 12, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia director of athletics Craig Littlepage announced Monday (June 12) that Sara Anundsen O’Leary has been named the head coach of the Cavalier’s women’s tennis program. She comes to UVA after serving as the head coach at Davidson the past three seasons.
“Sara O’Leary possesses everything we look for in our head coaches,” Littlepage said. “Sara has gained great experience working with top players, she is committed to strong academic performance, she has proven she has the ability to build a winning culture, and she is familiar with the ACC and the challenge of competing for both ACC and NCAA championships. It’s clear Sara is looking forward to working with Andres to build our tennis program and see each of our women’s tennis student-athletes reach their potential.”
“I would first like to thank Craig Littlepage, Jon Oliver and Andres Pedroso for this incredible opportunity,” O’Leary said. “The University of Virginia is one of the most prestigious universities in the country built on great tradition and it is an honor to be part of it. I would also like to thank Davidson President Carol Quillen, Jim Murphy, Katy McNay and everyone who made the last three years such a special experience for me. The relationships I have formed with my players, colleagues and supporters at Davidson have meant so much to me and I am truly thankful.
“My goal as a coach is to create a family atmosphere for my players and coaches filled with support, trust and compassion. My first priority is for the student-athletes in the program to improve as tennis players and as people. I will strive to establish a culture that gives each of them the best opportunity to maximize their potential. I am incredibly grateful and excited for this opportunity to coach at UVA and work with Andres to make a positive impact on the program, the student-athletes and the community.”
O’Leary took over the Davidson program in July of 2014 and guided the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons. Her team finished 12-10 in 2015, 18-5 in 2016 and 15-6 last season. She was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year after the Wildcats reached the conference finals during her second season. During her time at Davidson, players she coached received all-conference honors 10 times.
“I am extremely excited to welcome Sara to UVA Tennis,” Virginia director of tennis Andres Pedroso said. “Sara exemplifies all the coaching and leadership qualities we need to implement an unparalleled level of collaboration between our men’s and women’s tennis programs. Sara has shown to be a proven winner at the highest levels of collegiate tennis as both a player and as a coach but her greatest gift is her ability to connect, relate and build life-long relationships with her student-athletes. I am really looking forward to working together with Sara to make sure our student-athletes have a world-class experience at the University of Virginia.”
Like Pedroso, O’Leary has also been directly involved with USTA Player Development, as a coach for the USTA Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2015. During these three months, she coached and mentored some of the nation’s top collegiate players including Jamie Loeb and Brooke Austin, who finished the 2015 season nationally-ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
Prior to taking over the Davidson program, O’Leary was an assistant coach at North Carolina, her alma mater, from August of 2008 to June of 2014. During her six years as assistant coach, O’Leary helped the Tar Heels reach the NCAA Tournament each year, including the 2014 season when UNC reached its first national championship match before falling to UCLA 4-3.
In addition to capturing the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title and finishing third in the ITA national rankings, the Tar Heels posted a 29-6 record, which was one win shy of the program record set in 2010. O’Leary also coached four players in 2014 that received All-American honors, including Loeb, the No. 1 player in the country.
The Tar Heels won the 2013 ITA Indoor Team Championship and finished the season ranked No. 4 nationally, while Loeb won the 2013 ITA All American tournament and the 2013 ITA National Indoor tournament. That year, O’Leary helped North Carolina recruit one of the nation’s top classes.
O’Leary earned ITA Carolina Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors during the 2009-10 campaign, when the Tar Heels advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. UNC finished with a school-record 30 wins and an ACC-record 11-0 mark in league play.
In 2011, O’Leary was named ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year after North Carolina won its first ACC title in nine years and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships.
O’Leary, who played at North Carolina under her maiden name of Anundsen, earned All-America honors in 2006 and 2007, and helped lead the Tar Heels to a pair of Sweet 16 and an Elite Eight appearances. During her senior season, she combined with Jenna Long to win the 2007 NCAA doubles title – the first national championship in UNC program history. They were named the ITA National Doubles Team of the Year. O’Leary reached the semifinals of the NCAA doubles championship as a junior in 2006.
O’Leary graduated from UNC with a degree in management and society in 2007. She twice was named to the Dean’s List and earned ACC Honor Roll honors three times, while being named to the ACC All-Academic Team twice. During her senior year, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District III team.
Following her graduation, O’Leary began her coaching career as an assistant at Princeton during the 2007-08 campaign. That year she helped the Tigers land the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class.
A native of Littleton, Colo., she was named to the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015 in January. She was also a three-time state singles champion while playing for Columbine High School.