Clarisse Baca has been the head coach of the Academy of Art University women's tennis team since 2018. A native of Chihuahua, Mexico, she was a top-3 junior player in Mexico and participated in several international competitions before heading to the US to attend Sacramento State, where she had an impressive career on the tennis team and later as the head coach. While there she also earned a master's degree in global business and entrepreneurship and a bachelor's degree in science business administration.
In her first season at the Academy of Art in 2018 she led the team to their first NCAA Nationals appearance. In 2019, the team finished in second place at the PacWest Championship and achieved their highest national DII ranking -- #6 in the nation. Most recently, the players Sofia Ragona and Yun "Nicole" Shiau won the ITA West Regionals tournament in doubles and qualified to the ITA CUP.
1.People are sometimes surprised to hear that the Academy of Art has a tennis team. What role does tennis play a role at the school?
The athletics department has been playing a very important part of the overall success of the university since joining the NCAA DII. Our student-athletes are not only talented athletes and students, but artists. Be Artist. Be Athlete. is our athletics slogan and we live it every day! The tennis program is one of the most successful teams on campus and that is due to the support of President Elisa Stephens, Athletic Director Brad Jones and the athletics staff.
2.You’ve been a coach since 2012 (first at Sacramento State, now at the Academy of Art). What inspires you?
After graduating from college, I started to work for a real estate company as a marketing manager, but then a coaching opportunity opened up and I took it without knowing how much I loved educating, helping and connecting with others through tennis. My biggest inspiration to be a coach is to experience the positive transformation of the players who I get to work with.
3.Your players have been active volunteers at the Goldman Tennis Center and you hosted an event for a Latina Professionals group there. What has your experience been there?
The center has so much history since its existence that it’s simply an honor to be part of the community. My family and I moved to the Bay Area while the renovation was taking place, so I personally only have experienced it after the renovation. Even though every corner of the center is new, you can still sense the history and the strong community feel.
4.How did you first get interested in tennis?
I started playing tennis at six years old by hitting against the wall every Sunday at a tennis club in Chihuahua, Mexico. At the age of 12, I won my first national tennis tournament and traveled around the world playing junior tennis tournaments. I wanted to continue my education, so I received a full scholarship to play for Sacramento State in 2008.
5.When not playing or coaching tennis, what might we find you doing?
Concerts, hiking, traveling and hanging out with my two sons, family and friends.