The “Average Joes” are down to one Joe, who happens to be leader and captain of the USTA Men’s 40-and-Over 4.0 league team from Santa Barbara that is headed to Nationals.
“We started with three Joes on the team, so that’s how we got the name,” said Joe Kautz, the longtime Santa Barbara resident and captain of the team that plays out of Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club in Goleta and has advanced to Nationals for the first time. “We’re just this little team from Santa Barbara that wasn’t expected to make it this far.”
USTA Southern California Adult League Coordinator Ali Ordonez refers to the “Average Joes” as the “Cinderellas” as the team wasn’t expected to beat a San Gabriel Valley team in the SoCal Sectional finals in Long Beach. The Nationals are set for Oct. 11-13 in Surprise, Ariz.
“We’ve been to Sectionals three times but never won it,” Kautz added.
The “Average Joes” team members besides Kautz include: Robert Scott, Hon Wai Chan, Mark Cassady, John Lamoutte, Dax Holdren, Brian Tisdale, Jesse Duncan, Andy Gill, David Vierra, James Zmolek, Michael Dockendorf, Casey Roberts and Johnny Jordan.
Kautz, who is a vice president of finance for a food distribution company in Ventura, came to the game of tennis late and has enjoyed the competitive nature of the sport for the past 15 years. Growing up on the Central Coast in the town of Nipomo near Santa Maria, Kautz took his first tennis class at Hancock College.
“We joined Cathedral Oaks and my two started wanted to play tennis.
My two sons wanted to play tennis so we joined and I started working out in the gym,” Kautz said. “After a while I started see others play and said, ‘That looks a lot more fun than working out.’ ”
Steve Pratt is a former Los Angeles Times sports staffer who has covered tennis for more than 25 years.