The Southern California Tennis Association’s 2015 Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner was held on September 20th at the Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades. The venue was the perfect setting for the attendees to spend time to catch up and share reflections about all the accomplishments of the honorees. “Family” was the theme of this year’s gala, which is the reason that Wayne and Kathy Bryan, Jerry and Jeanie Buss, William “Bill” Rombeau, Brian Teacher and Pam Teeguarden were recognized.
Executive Director, Bruce Hunt introduced SCTA President William (Bill) Kellogg who began the presentation by recalling Southern California’s rich tennis history and the impact the inductees have had on the game.
Pam Shriver, a 2002 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, and a 2007 SCTA Hall of Fame honoree, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. She introduced Teeguarden, who, along with her brother, Ron and sister, Adrienne, learned to play tennis at Cheviot Hills Tennis Center. Jerry, their father, an accomplished instructor, taught his children the game. During her career Teeguarden participated in eighteen consecutive US Opens, which was the record until Chris Evert played nineteen straight. Her career highlights include winning the 1974 US Open Mixed Doubles with Australian, Geoff Masters, and the Roland Garros Women’s Doubles with Regina Marsikova of the Czech Republic in 1977.
Always aware of changes on the fashion front, Teeguarden opened tennis-fashionistas’ eyes when she was the first woman to wear all black at the 1975 Bridgestone Doubles Championships in Tokyo. Her wealth of playing experience included being a regular World TeamTennis competitor.
Ben Press, who is “Mr. Tennis” in San Diego, introduced Teacher, who grew up there. A former UCLA tennis star, Press recalled how happy he was that he had convinced Teacher to become a Bruin (where he was a four-time All-American, and a member of the school’s NCAA Championship teams in 1975-76).
Teacher showcased his flexibility “Freelancing” comments after losing his prepared acceptance speech. He segued into beginning to play at Morley Field; working on his game, playing Bobby Riggs, and how Guy and Harry Fritz helped him learn the value of certain points. More telling, he addressed the personal turmoil he faced while winning the1980 Australian Open, saying, “You never know where you will get inspiration…”
Jimmy Connors seems to be a reclusive legend. He rarely appears at tennis gatherings, yet he was among the celebrities at this Hall of Fame ceremony. He was on hand because of his long-standing friendship with Jeanie Buss. After he praised her commitment to tennis and the people in it, the inductee, who was being honored along with her father, Jerry who passed away in February 2013, called attention to the fact that the first sports team he owned was the Los Angeles Strings, the World TeamTennis franchise that he purchased in 1974. She enjoyed explaining that at nineteen, she was named the General Manager. In time, with her father’s support, she created the highly successful Forum Tennis Challenge Series, which featured the best players in the game – including Connors.
Admitting the she had to “Twist Jimmy’s arm to get him here…”, she added, “TeamTennis is how I cut my teeth, but I wasn’t expecting how fun it would be….” She closed saying, how grateful she was to be inducted, and added, “My dad (who purchased the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979) would be pleased with the honor.”
The Rombeau family (en masse) was thrilled that William (Bill) Rombeau, who passed away in January 2012, was among those being feted. Bob Kramer, an SCTA Board member, talked about Rombeau’s growing up at the Los Angeles Tennis Club when Perry T. Jones was the authority in residence; being a top player at Oregon State University, but more important, how he impacted the game in so many ways. He did it as a teaching professional. He did it as the Director of Tennis where he made the Racquet Centre of Universal City flourish. And later, he did it as President of Sports Tutor, the leading ball machine company in the world.
Rombeau played a significant role as a member of the Committee of Management for 1984 Olympic Games Tennis, but his most stellar accomplishment was his progressive leadership of the SCTA between 1997 and 2008. Tennis was his passion, but his family – wife, Sharon and daughters Kira and Nicole – was his life.
Wayne and Kathy Bryan brought the curtain down on the auspicious gathering. Tracy Austin introduced the game’s most illustrious parenting pair, but it was hardly necessary because almost everyone in the sport knows them. Tennis fans are aware of the Bryan’s dedication to the game, having made the Cabrillo Racquet Club, in Somis a “Place To Play” location. And, of course, their unrelenting effort to increase participation through programs such as Junior Team Tennis and their never waning love for the game are listed among their credits.
Mike Bryan, half of the “World’s best doubles team ever”, attended the festivities, with his wife, Lucille. He joined his parents on the stage, enlivening the exchanges with look-back insights. Kathy’s calmness and technical expertise was covered, along with Wayne’s overwhelming energy no matter the situation.
Wayne brought the curtain down on the evening, admitting, “I am honored, appreciative and humbled to go into the Hall of Fame with Kathy (my special girl), Jerry and Jeanie, Bill, Brian and Pam. I am so happy to be part of this.”
The appreciative attendees, along with the members of the 2015 Southern California Tennis Association’s Hall of Fame induction class, echoed the sentiment.
Look for a fresh examination of tennis topics at “Mark Thoughts”