Teaching Pro Spotlight – Kal Moranon
Kal Moranon has long been considered one of Southern California’s top tennis teachers.
The quiet, unassuming 61-year-old Moranon can often be seen at tournaments in the shadows of his pupils, offering insightful advice when called upon.
Recently, Moranon was spotted in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin at the Red Rock Country Club where his long-time student former USC captain Danielle Lao was grinding her way through the draw.
Lao qualified for the US Open both in 2017 and 2018, and unlike last year when injuries ended her season after the Open, Lao is currently healthy and was excited to play until mid-November before calling it a year.
Nicknamed “The Little Giant”, Lao a few years back wrote a book called “The Invaluable Experience” about her transition from college tennis to the pros, and has always been considered one of the hardest working and smart players on the women’s pro tour. She earned her business degree from USC with a minor in communications.
“After college she didn’t think she was going to go pro and she went on a job interview,” Moranon recalled at Red Rock a few weeks ago about Lao’s decision to turn pro and not quit tennis. “But the job was back east, and her father thought she was still too young to move that far from home. So we kept working together and she started to peak, and started to win. Last year’s season ended with an injury, but this year she’s healthy and wants to keep at it so we’ll see.”
Moranon for years taught at former USC player Johnny Wang’s house, and does his lessons anywhere he can find a court in and around Arcadia and other parts of the San Gabriel Valley.
At the Easter Bowl in April, Moranon showed up on the final day to watch his longtime student Anessa Lee of San Marino win a coveted USTA gold ball at the prestigious national event in the girls’ 16s. Moranon said it was a thrilling moment as he has worked with Lee since she was 9 years old.
As a youngster, Moranon learned from the best as his first coach was Pancho Segura, and his second coach Robert Lansdorp.
Moranon said he quit tennis shortly after college, but came back to be an assistant coach at Cal-State L.A. and then started his own academy at Highland Park in South Pasadena.
“This was the early 1980s, and we took whoever didn’t go to Robert who was the best in the area then,” he said.
He learned a lot from Segura, and chuckled when he recalled every other word out of Segura’s mouth was a cuss word. “He taught you how to use everything,” Moranon said. “If you watch Danielle you see that she uses everything. Side to side, slice and dice and work on finding an opening and go for it.”