Peninsula – November 2009


Stanford’s Klahn Reaches Pro Classic Final

Stanford sophomore Bradley Klahn reached the final of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic in Claremont, Calif., where he fell to Slovakia’s Matej Bocko 7-6(4), 6-3.

The fifth-seeded Bocko, who spent some of his most formative tennis-playing years as a junior in SoCal, now resides in South Florida.

“I really consider myself an American,” said Bocko, 25, after the match with no hint of an Eastern European accent. “I still have my working visa and am proud of my Slovakian citizenship but it’s just that I’ve spent most of my time over here in the States.”

Like Bocko, Klahn plays an aggressive left-handed game and waits for just the right chance to chip and charge and put away points from the net. But he wasn’t able to do it enough against Bocko. “He just plays so patiently,” said Klahn, who was trying to become the third Stanford player to win the event (Ryan Wolters won it in ‘99 and Geoff Abrams in ‘00). “He’s so quick and he used his slice so effectively. He drives you in and he just tempts you into errors. I was just too impatient today.”

YTA’s Fay Leaves Big Shoes to Fill

Bay Area tennis philanthropy lost one of its best-loved kingpins with the passing of Paul “Red” Fay, the affable Kennedy clan buddy whose infectious devotion to supporting tennis for poor inner-city kids made the people he charmed glad to reach for their wallets.

Fay joined San Francisco’s Youth Tennis Foundation board in ‘51, four years after it was organized to bring free lessons to kids in poor neighborhoods. He continued on the board after it merged with the NJTL chapter. Adding tutoring, the nonprofit became Youth Tennis Advantage in ‘99, and Fay was active until he became too ill to continue.

After his WWII friend Sen. John F. Kennedy became president, Fay, a Stanford grad, was appointed undersecretary of the Navy. Later, operating several businesses, he spent a lifetime using his impressive list of contacts to raise money for poor kids to play the game he loved.

“He was a transformation figure and a great fundraiser,” said fellow board member Peter Folger. “And he didn’t just stay in the boardroom, either. He went to the sites to follow up on accountability and to talk to the teachers and the kids. For him it was about children.”

Ed Osgood, a founding member of YTF who serves on the YTA board, said he and Fay had loved playing on the late Robert Kennedy’s tennis court in Washington D.C. and, in Woodside, alternating all day sessions on Osgood’s court, then Fay’s.

Of the early YTF days in ‘50s, Osgood said Fay “came in and took over.” The budget then was $1,000 a year and as the YTA in the ‘00s, it climbed to $1 million. “And my God,” Osgood said, “he raised $1 million a year for us. What a feat. He was an achiever — and a great friend — God bless him.”

Fay, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, cut back his activities in ‘05.

He died Sept. 23 at age 91. Memorial contributions can be made to Youth Tennis Advantage, 610 casino online 16th Street, No. 322, Oakland, CA 94612.

The Story of Swetka’s Comeback in the 90s

Alex Swetka’s quest for the rarest of rare distinctions — the consecutive triple Grand Slam — ended earlier this year when excruciating pain in his left leg that mystified his doctors knocked him out of tennis.

Swetka, founder of Swetka’s Mountain View tennis shop, is a NorCal legend for perennially dominating tennis locally, nationally and internationally in his age group. Now, he’s in his early 90s and for the last two years has won the USTA’s four national singles titles in his division on grass, clay, hard courts and indoors. Winning all in one year is a Grand Slam.

Swetka: “I get a little better each week.”
Swetka: “I get a little better each week.”

Finally, his doctors decided it was lack of circulation in his throbbing left calf and they’d operate. On May 21 at Kaiser Hospital, they drugged him and opened him up from his left side down to his calf and over a couple of hours made their arterial adjustments.

Meanwhile, a freshman 90s player, online casino nbso Howard Moffett out of SoCal had won the Hard Courts in April and the Indoors in May, stopping two Swetka streaks. But championships on the two iffy footing surfaces, grass and clay, remained. And after doctors cleared him to resume tennis in August, Swetka began the “very slow” restoration of his game.

He estimates he was 70 percent together when he won the grass court finals 6-1 in the third set in early September. Moffett, curiously, wasn’t in the draw. By October, Swetka had enhanced his mobility and then won the clay courts final 6-1, 6-1. Moffett wasn’t there, either.

“I’m about 75 percent now,” Swetka said, home Oct. 12 after winning his 85s singles match in Fresno in the annual NorCal vs. SoCal senior challenge. “I get a little better each week. But it’s slow. Nope, not walking with a limp. Moffett? Yeah, I’ve played him four or five times before. Nah, never lost to him.”

And so the legend grows.

Champions Fall at Cal State Sr. Championships

Three defending singles champions got beat in tight three-set finals in the California State Senior Championships at the Peninsula Tennis Club over Labor Day, a wrinkle in senior tournament results that often tend to lopsidedness.

No. 3 seed Doug Kurdys of Oakland knocked off defending champ and No. 2 seed Mike Saputo of Walnut Creek 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the 65s finals after scraping by top-seeded Gary Pybas in the semis 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Another No. 3 seed, Rudy Giannini of Millbrae upended two-time defending champion and top-seed in the 75s, Everett Riggle, of Chico in a marathon 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4. And in the 80s, Carmichael’s Wayne Hippenstiel edged the defender Leonard Malherbe of Mill Valley 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

A fourth super senior final went three sets — the 70s, won by Andrew Magyary. John Penero was a repeat winner. He took 55s in ‘08 and the 60s this year.

The tournament had 108 players, down from 134 entries last year, 154 in ‘07, and 185 in ‘06. Other winners: M35, David Halleck; M40, Curtis Dunn; M50, Joseph Kennedy; M55, Geoff Cykman; M70, Andrew Magyary; M85, T. Leroy Hardwicke; W55, Kendra Blewitt; M60D, John Penero/Ron Wihlidal; M70D, Colin Armitage/Elmer Mangrum; M75D, Everett Riggle/Martin Silverman; M85D, Dyle Anderson/Austin Sellery; MXD55, Therese Pilati/Ron Wihlidal.

Palo Alto Welcomes Tennis Town & Country

Pac-10 power Stanford isn’t the only tennis giant along El Camino Real anymore. Located in the rather imposing shadows of the Taube Tennis Center – where the Cardinal regularly reel in NCAA team titles – Tennis Town & Country opened its doors on Oct. 2, and now feature a full line of rackets (Wilson, Babolat, Dunlop, etc.), apparel and shoes, and also offer a comprehensive demo program and stringing service.

For info on the new shop, located at 855 El Camino Real (at Embarcadero) in Town & Country Village, visit, of call (650) 328-3223.

In Brief

ITA preseason rankings as of Sept. 4 have the Stanford women’s Hilary Barte at No. 5 nationally and Alex Clayton of the men’s team No. 7. Both are juniors. Stanford’s Bradley Klahn, a sophomore, is No. 15. In August, Clayton won the summer ITA Summer Championship playoff in Bloomington, Ind.

Ladera Oaks won the Mid-Peninsula Jr. Interclub League this summer for the first time in 30 years, a competition that’s been dominated by Alpine Hills. The league involves up to 500 kids age 7 to 18 from eight clubs at all imaginable playing levels. Ladera Oaks tennis director Ray Bilsey was beside himself with joy but said that across the board, with every year, it’s “junior tennis that wins.”

Alpine Hills Tennis and Swimming Club planned to celebrate Chris Bradley’s 35 years at the club, with a nostalgic Nov. 1 send-off cocktail party, featuring a live band. Bradley, who says he is not yet retired, is the former tennis director.