Although participation was down from previous years, 50 tennis lovers age 9 to nearly 70 showcased their varying skills at the 54th annual Laguna Beach Tennis Tournament, held over the past two weekends on the courts of Alta Laguna Park.
In his first year as the city’s recreation supervisor, having replaced Ron Lutz, who retired last year after several decades at the helm, Thomas Toman isn’t quite sure what caused the drop off in registration, but he is already considering ways to inject new life into the event. “I’m excited to see how I can make an impact next year,” he said via email.
“In the ‘70s, the tournament was really big,” said player Tim Davis. “All the courts were used in those days.”
While some stayed away this year, Davis and his wife Bonnie returned after more than 30 years spent raising a family and running their local business, Laguna Print. The two met in study hall at Laguna Beach High in the early ‘60s. “Of course we weren’t studying,” said Tim, laughing.
Bonnie had been playing tennis since grade school, and Tim competed in track and football for the LBHS. The two sports lovers began their life-long partnership on the local beaches playing two-man volleyball. After they got married, they took to the tennis courts. “When you get in your ‘30s, the legs don’t work so good any more on the sand,” said Tim.
Prior to this year, Bonnie’s last match in a city tournament ended abruptly just before she and her women’s doubles partner were about to play for the title. That’s when she went into labor with her first child. “When you play all along and you’re getting bigger and bigger, it’s okay,” she said of her ability to play competitively into her ninth month.
Even though they finished third out of three teams, the Davis’ are looking forward to next year’s tournament. “We were kind of outsiders this time, but next time we won’t be,” said Tim.
The event employs a round-robin format, where each team or individual plays all other competitors in their division. The best record at the end wins their division. In case of a tie, the number of games or sets won determines the winner. This year three divisions ended in a tie.
After some confusion over how to apply the rule, Mike Hardy and Richard Selin came out on top of a three-way tie in the men’s 4.5 doubles division. “I think there was some sort of a debate over whether we won or not,” said Hardy. “I kind of felt sorry for [tournament director Julie Heussenstamm],” who had to smooth out the disagreement.
A casual player who laughs at being “roped” into the tournament by his more competitive partner Selin, Hardy offered his light-hearted outlook on the scoring controversy. “It’s kind of interesting what 50-year-old men will do for a $5 trophy.”
Local tennis coach Heussenstamm, who has been running the show since 1995, weathered the storm to pull off what was by all accounts a very successful event. She said via email that she enjoys watching competitors overcome challenges and grow in the sport. Heussenstamm offered Patrick Whitfield, winner of the men’s 3.5 singles, as a prime example. “It was really tough for him last year, and this year he came back and won his event,” she said.
Results of the 54th Annual City of Laguna Beach Tennis Tournament
Played 3/26, 3/27 and 4/2 at Alta Laguna Park
Men’s 5.5 Singles:
Winner Ray Tang; 2nd Place David Goldstein
Men’s 4.5 Doubles:
Winners Richard Selin and Mike Hardy 2nd Place Joseph Cormier and Mikey Guerrero
Men’s 4.0 Singles:
Winner Stas Grishin; 2nd Place Clark Collins
Men’s 4.0 Doubles:
Winners Greig Altieri and Greg Erfani; 2nd Place Pete Salomon and Clark Collins
Men’s 3.5 Singles:
Winner Patrick Whitfield; 2nd Place Rob Lebby
3.5 Mixed Doubles:
Winners Sue and Pete Salomon; 2nd Place Lyn Vail and Ron Kanner
Women’s 4.0 Singles:
Winner Maria Szakacs; 2nd Place Janice Ashton
Women’s 4.0 Doubles:
Winners Wendy Potter and Barbara Paul; 2nd Place Janice Ashton and Terri Hamm
Winners Mason and Rob Lebby; 2nd Place Scott and Mike Yoder; 3rd Place Petey and Maria Szakacs