Raquel Atawo, a five-time collegiate All-American and 18-time winner on the WTA Tour, has been named assistant coach for Auburn women’s tennis, head coach Caroline Lilley announced today.
Atawo was the nation’s top-ranked singles player in 2004 as a student-athlete at California and was the 2003 NCAA doubles champion. She also claimed 18 career WTA titles as a professional and was a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist.
She comes to Auburn after spending the 2019-20 season as a volunteer assistant coach at her alma mater. She was also a volunteer assistant at UC Davis in 2017-18.
“I am honored to be joining Auburn University, and I am looking forward to adding to the incredible athletics program,” Atawo said. “Coach Lilley is a passionate and inspiring leader, and I’m excited to join forces and take the women’s tennis program to new heights. Thank you to Athletics Director Allen Greene and Associate Athletics Director Evin Beck for this opportunity.”
Over a 15-year professional career on the WTA Tour, Atawo was ranked as high as No. 10 in the world in doubles and No. 162 in singles. She won 18 doubles tournament titles as a professional and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open in 2014 and Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016. Throughout her professional career, she appeared in 50 Grand Slam events.
She wrapped up her professional playing career in 2019, reaching the doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open and second rounds at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the U.S. Open.
“Raquel’s career speaks for itself,” Lilley said. “Her seamless transition from amongst the best of collegiate tennis to the elite in professional tennis sets such a great example for college tennis being a viable pathway to the WTA Tour. Raquel’s character, desire to learn, and authentic interest in developing relationships will fit incredibly well with our development-focused, process-oriented program. I am thrilled to welcome Raquel and her husband, Toby, to the Auburn Family, and I am grateful and humbled to work alongside someone with her unwavering integrity.”
As a collegiate player at Cal, Atawo – then Raquel Kops-Jones – was the 2004 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Player of the Year and Pac-10 Player of the Year. She was ranked No. 1 nationally in singles most of the season and was the first player from Cal to win the Pac-10 singles championship. She and doubles partner Christina Fusano teamed up to win the NCAA doubles title in 2003, and they were the Pac-10 doubles champions in 2002 and 2003.
Atawo was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015. She is married to former Cal track & field athlete Toby Atawo.