Since 1992, the names Bob and Betty Isenberg have been synonymous with USTA Adult League Tennis in Ventura County. After 27 years running the popular league as Area League Coordinators, the pair have decided it’s time to pass the baton and give someone else the opportunity to continue growing tennis from Calabasas to Ojai and parts in between.
The person who will inherit the role is current USTA Southern California Adult Competition Coordinator Mary Gastro, who has been in her position for the past five years and knows the ins and outs of USTA League tennis. The announcement was made at the recent year-end Ventura County League area meeting where Gastro was introduced as taking over, and the Isenberg’s were honored for their years of service.
“We do know Mary well and we absolutely think she will do a great job taking over,” said Bob, a former player at UCLA who is in the SoCal Senior Hall of Fame.
“I hope to build on what Bob and Betty have done over the many years of great work growing tennis in Ventura County,” said Gastro, a Woodland Hills resident. “I know most of the league captains and players and have received a warm welcome from them having played in the Ventura County leagues since 2008, so there won’t be any issues in terms of transition.”
Isenberg is 88 years old, and Betty 78. The longtime couple have been married for 55 years. Betty said both of them stopped playing tennis two years ago, and that for most of their married years, tennis was the focal point of their lives.
“It’s been very gratifying to have done what we’ve done and build the league and now it’s time to let someone else run it,” Betty said.
The year was 1992 when then-SCTA Director of Adult Tennis Annette Buck approached her good friend Bob—a successful and active senior player—to take over as the area league coordinator. “I initially resisted it because I was playing a lot of tournaments all over,” Bob said. “She invited me to go for breakfast and I did and we talked. She said do it for one year and if you don’t like it, stop. So I did it and haven’t stopped.”
Bob continued: “I found it wasn’t tying me down and that I could play other tournaments. We grew right away to 20 or 30 teams. I found it gratifying that we could put something together like that in Ventura County.”
There are more than 6,300 players currently registered for the various Ventura County leagues with the recently completed Fall doubles league containing over 100 teams.
Betty said there are some players and captains who have been with the league since they started. “There has been real dedication by the players and captains and it’s continued to grow and others have gravitated to that.”
Gastro concluded by saying the foundation the Isenberg’s have built will make her job easy to step into, but challenges remain. “We’re coming upon 2020 and times are changing,” Gastro said. “We hope to continue to add programs and resources and keep tennis growing in Ventura County for years to come.”