Now heading into her fifth season as the head coach of the Maryland women's golf team, Diana Cantu is building a program that is ready for the national stage. The former Tennessee standout golfer and Baylor assistant was hired in the summer of 2014.
With three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior in the lineup, Cantu and the Terps won the team's first team title since 2012 with a win at the Nittany Lion Invitational in September 2017. The Terps' finished one stroke under par with a score of 863 (293-282-288), which set a school record. In just her third collegiate event, freshman Laura Van Respaille won the individual title.
That spring, Cantu helped lead the Terrapins to a second-place finish in the Big Ten Championships - their highest finish in the Big Ten Tournament since they joined the league. Sophomore Xiaolin Tian tied for second in the individual standings and earned All-Big Ten honors, as well as an individual bid to NCAA Regionals in Austin, Texas.
Cantu helped the Terrapins set a program-record low score of 281 in the Henssler Intercollegiate in March of 2017.
In Cantu's first season in College Park, she mentored one of the top golfers in Maryland women's golf history as senior Juliet Vongphoumy was named the Mary Fossum award winner in the Terps' inaugural season in the Big Ten Conference.
Cantú came to College Park after a successful three-year stint as the top assistant at Baylor. In her first year with the Lady Bears, she helped guide the squad to just the second NCAA Championship appearance in program history. In 2011-12, Baylor also saw its first women's golf All-American (Hayley Davis) as well as two All-Big 12 performers (Davis, Chelsey Cothran).
During her second year at Baylor, the Lady Bears came within a stroke of earning an NCAA Championship berth after a ninth-place finish at the NCAA West Regional. Davis repeated as an All-American, and Lauren Taylor was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
Last season, Davis earned an individual appearance at the NCAA Championship and the team took third at the Big 12 Conference Championship.
“Diana is passionate about Maryland and the game of golf and brings a coaching philosophy that is completely in sync with our core values of nurturing and empowering student-athletes,” former Maryland Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson said. “She is a high energy individual who is a tireless recruiter and is an ideal fit for our women’s golf program as we make the transition into our inaugural season in the Big Ten conference.”
As a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee, Cantú put together one of the finest careers in Lady Vols women’s golf history as a member of three teams that qualified for the NCAA Championship (2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10). She earned All-SEC and NCAA East All-Region honors as a senior and ranks eighth in UT history in stroke average (76.16) and second in career rounds played (130).
In her junior campaign with the Vols, she ranked fourth in the country in three-putt holes (0.70) and 11th in average putts (30.47). She was an NCAA Academic All-American in 2007.
"I am honored to be leading the University of Maryland women's golf program and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Cantú said. “Maryland has an outstanding reputation both academically and in athletics. I am looking forward to continuing to grow this great program coach Jason Rodenhaver has built and taking it to new heights.”
Prior to arriving to Tennessee, the Monterrey, Mexico, native captured the 2005 Mexican Amateur title and was the runner-up in 2006. Cantú has been a member of the Mexican National Team since 2005 and won an individual silver medal to help lead Mexico to team gold at the 2007 University Games in Thailand.
Cantú graduated from Tennessee with a degree in business administration and a master’s degree in sports management from Baylor.
What They’re Saying About Diana Cantú:
Jay Goble, Head Women's Golf Coach at Baylor University
“Diana is a very passionate about the game of collegiate golf. She has competed and coached at a very high level throughout her career and understands what it takes to be successful. Diana is an outstanding communicator and has played and coached in programs with a winning culture.”
Judi Pavon, Head Women’s Coach at the University of Tennessee
“I'm so happy for Diana. She will do a great job as the head coach at Maryland. She was a great player during her career at Tennessee and she has gained coaching experience working for coach Goble at Baylor. I look forward to seeing her representing Maryland on the road recruiting and in tournament play.”
Jason Rodenhaver, Head Men’s Golf Coach at the University of Maryland
“Diana will do a fantastic job here at Maryland. She's well-respected in our industry and a tireless recruiter. We're fortunate to get one of the best young up-and-coming coaches in the country.”