The dean of all Pepperdine coaches, Gualberto Escudero begins his 40th season coaching in Malibu in 2016-17. He ended his 37th season at the helm of the women’s tennis program in 2013-14, but remained on staff as an associate head coach in 2014 and moved to his current Director of Operations role in 2015 and 2016. Escudero took over the head coaching position at the start of the 1977-78 season and has compiled a career record of 651-334 (.661) over 37 seasons. He was enshrined into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2013.
Escudero’s win total ranks second among all women’s tennis coaches, active or inactive. He is just one of three coaches to have reached the 600 wins milestone, along with Lin Loring and Jeff Wallace.
Escudero has led Pepperdine to the NCAA postseason on 31 occasions, including each of his final 27 seasons as head coach. The Waves have advanced to the quarterfinal round at the NCAA Championships on four occasions — 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1994. Escudero has directed Pepperdine to a top 10 final ranking seven times — 1984, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 and 2000.
Pepperdine was dominant in the West Coast Conference under Escudero’s leadership. The Waves won 24 (of a possible 27) conference titles during his tenure, which included a streak of 14 in a row from 1988-2001. The Waves went a remarkable 54-3 (.947) at the WCC Tournament between 1995-2014. In 2012, Pepperdine was awarded the conference’s first-ever regular season title after going a perfect 8-0 against WCC opponents prior to the postseason. The Waves were co-champs in 2013 and won the title outright in the coach’s final season in 2014.
Escudero’s teams have won 20 or more dual matches in a season 13 times, and 32 of his 37 teams have posted winning seasons.
Escudero has received numerous accolades for his work with the Waves. He was selected the ITA’s District VIII Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1992, the ITA West Region Coach of the Year in 2006 and has been named WCC Coach of the Year four times (1999, 2000, 2006, 2012). He was named Pepperdine University’s Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1989.
He has consistently attracted talented players to Malibu. His recruits have been named All-Americans 32 times, the WCC Player of the Year five times and the WCC Freshman of the Year seven times. As head coach, his players have been All-WCC first team selections in singles 42 times and 24 doubles teams have won the award.
His student-athletes have also earned WCC All-Academic honors on 43 occasions. Anna Brunstrom was a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 1991. His teams earned public recognitions awards from the NCAA for its excellent APR score in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
The Waves sent Escudero out on a high note during his final season as head coach in 2014, winning a program-record 15 dual matches in a row while winning the WCC Tournament title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Championship. It was the longest win streak since 1999, when Pepperdine pieced together 14 wins in a row.
The Waves posted a 13-7 dual match record during 1978, his first season as Pepperdine’s head coach. The Waves competed at the AIAW national tournament in 1979 and 1980 and held the #1 ranking in the AIAW in 1980.
Under Escudero, Pepperdine made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1982 with the first of four straight berths in the Round of 16. Pam Jung collected the school’s first All-American honor in 1983, and she repeated the award in 1984 along with Elisa Fernandez.
After a brief two-year absence from the tournament, Escudero had the Waves back among the nation’s elite in 1988, as the Waves reached the Round of 16 again and went 22-4 for winning percentage of .846, a school record that still stands. Pepperdine has been part of the NCAA Tournament field every year since. Also, the Waves won the WCC title for the first time in 1988.
Ginger Helgeson and Janna Kovacevich earned All-American honors for the first time in 1988, as would Noelle Porter in 1989, and each would be key contributors as Pepperdine had a three-year run into the NCAA quarterfinals from 1989-91. The Waves finished with a #5 national ranking in 1991, the school’s best finish in NCAA play. During the short time that the WCC conducted a singles championship, the Waves won six straight titles between 1988-93, with Helgeson capturing the first three, Porter the next two and Sonja Olejar the final one.
A new group of All-Americans led by Angela Lawrence (a four-time honoree), Isabela Petrov and Zsofia Csapo helped the Waves to NCAA Round of 16 finishes in four of five seasons between 1995 and 1999. Escudero’s squad set a school record for wins with a 25-5 record in 1999.
Escudero’s most recent All-American awardees came in 2012, when Khunpak Issara and Lorraine Guillermo advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship. The duo came into the tournament ranked #32, and upset two top-30 pairs before suffering a loss the eventual champions, Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs of Stanford. Issara and Guillermo concluded the year ranked #19 in the polls. Additionally, Guillermo was named WCC Freshman of the Year while Issara was a first team selection in both singles and doubles. During Esucdero’s first year as an associate head coach, Guillermo was named the 2015 ITA/Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award national winner, and was a singles All-American.
The Waves won their first-round NCAA Tournament match for seven straight years between 2002-08. Their best finishes in recent years have been #10 in 2000 (21-5 record), #14 in 2006 (21-4 record) and #17 in 2007 (20-10 record). Pepperdine posted three straight 20-win seasons from 2006-08.
A native of Quillocollo, Bolivia, Escudero graduated from Hollywood High School before going on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in science in 1972 from Pepperdine. He went on to complete his credential requirements towards a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1976.
He was a standout player for the Waves from 1969-72. Under head coach John McClung, Escudero was a finalist in the 1969 WCAC singles tournament and won the doubles title with John Lovelace. Pepperdine won conference titles in 1969 and 1970 and finished second the next two years.
Presently, Escudero teaches tennis courses for the University’s physical education department and his classes are annually among the most popular at the school.
Escudero resides in Thousand Oaks with his wife, Ha‘. They have two sons, Egan and Kevin.