“Hi,” I said, “Are you going to Gunn now?”
No, Sacred Heart, the 15-year-old replied.
“What?” I responded in mock incredulity. “Barrie Bulmore. Stephanie Savides. Rebecca Dirksen..All Gunn players. All CCS champs.”
Choys 1 and 2 merely stared.
“Ok, they are closer to your Mom’s age I guess”.
I asked her if she was hoping to win the CCS this year, her freshman year. The Oak Creek newsletter in 2012 had mentioned that Sara (no last name) was ranked Number 1 in Girls 12s in Norcal. I chatted her up one day in the laundry room, she dragging a bag almost as large as she is.
“Go for it! You can do it!” They ducked into the elevator why I opted for the stairs.
Twelve hours later, recalling all of above, I search her to learn, in fact, that Sara Choy of Sacred Heart, according to John Reid of the Merc, beat a young lady from M-A, the defending CCS champ. She coulda been, no she is, bona fide, a contender.
“Hi, Stephanie. This is Mark Weiss. Gunn ’82. A former jayvee tennis player although I was also, for one day perhaps, number 1 on the Terman Junior High ladder. And you may also recall that in 1988 we walked a precinct together for Tom Campbell. Or was it Becky Morgan? I’m writing about youth tennis and would appreciate a call back. I’m writing about Sara Choy. They are comparing her to you. Or I am.”
Stephanie I think won CCS or at least, with her sister and bitter rival Stacy, won league and maybe CCS team for Gunn, in 1982 or 1883 or so. Steph played for Stanford while Stacy played for Cal. (Tom their brother played for Harvard, with Kevin Skelly, later PASD chief). I saw Stephanie in 1988 or so win the Nor Cal Open Title (i.e. pro) at Cuesta in Mountain View. She also sold a property recently on Uni Ave in Palo Alto, I’m curious about.
Truth be told –always, here at Plastic Alto, or it’s a Mark Twain-type “stretcher” – I was number 13 for Gunn, in 1982, although I played in three not four matches and therefore never lettered. (Long digression I will spare you on that distinction). Thirteen is number 4 JV. I recall unfortunately losing to Dave Feldman which was for the team match, v. Paly. At Terman the program was co-ed and by luck of the draw I drew the number 1 seed for our ladder. Justin Clayton disposed of me quite properly on the first available challenge but Stephanie Savides as a sevvie bagged him shortly thereafter. Just for yucks here’s a shout to other tennis legends of my era: Matt Porteus, Jeff Kessler, Craig Evans, Jeff Taber, Ben Junta, Richard Nielson, Gary Castillo, Jay Miller, Heebner, John Saviano, Burdick. Rick Arons, Ken Arnold, Doug Knapp — WHO I BEAT IN A LADDER CHALLENGE AT PRACTICE DESPITE RICK FISHER FROM HIS VETTE SPURRING HIM ON — and Ethan Stolzenberg. For those of you knew to the rodeo Gunn won 200 consecutive matches between 1968 and 1979 our freshman year and broke a national record, had seven consecutive CCS titles for boys and one year had their then 1 (Nick Saviano) and 4 (Chip Hooper) end up in the top 50 in the world.
Anyhow good luck to Sara Choy — I will try to catch the CCS tourney for ladies. (Call me back Michael Jessup and Stephanie Savides. Stacy Savides meanwhile is retired from Google I hear and underwrites as a form of noblesse oblige the former Mini Mart behind Terman now called CandyShack or something, not cheap, but yummy although you cannot really hang there unless you have braces).
I first heard about Sara from the Oak Creek newsletter; Jessup trains some amazing kids there or here. You couldn’t not notice Sara Choy as something unusual on the court, like the scene in “A Sense of Where You Are” where the author’s father lets the author notice the beauty of young Bill Bradley doing his warm-ups.
coda: gratuitous lit ref:
YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly–Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is–and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before. (when I write stretchers here I think Chip Hooper, he so tall)
coda 2: come to think of it, an hour in, as coffee hits the synapses, I have an item about Mundo or Mungo the stringing legend, who I visited the day he packed up his Ramona Street workshop, and photos. check back.
Kelly Colbert Baynham, married to Wade Baynham, a former Stanford Dolly, the daughter of golf legend Jim Colbert, who I knew as part of the Christian folk rock group BASICS, I asked once if she played tennis: “Number 6 in Nevada” with a shrug; it’s a largely desolate place. And one: or let first second service: last I saw of Rebecca Dirksen — and you can hardly believe me if you know me at all that I did not say hi, merely noted, for future Plastic Alto use years later — she was coaching at Chapel Hill Tar Heels and eating like me at a restaurant owned by Mac MacCaughan’s wife, his baby-mom, Mac of Superchunk that is.
edit to add, later that day: ran into Sara’s Mom, Karen at Oak Creek clubhouse. She corrected my article that the girl she deposed as Queen of Mid Peninsula Prep and Probably CCS is from Menlo not M-A, hence the Bill Shine quote, duh. She said her daughter is 1 year 3 months younger than the one from Atherton who did well in a Grand Slam and they used to hit together but no Sara is not at that level yet. They are from China. This is her son with the website pictured above. I said I hope to catch a CCS tourney match and yes I am sorry and sad that Sacred Heart gain is Gunn loss. I helped her find John’s story on line it is not in the Merc hard copy here at the Oak.
edit to add, later that night: heard back from my Gunn Terman and Fremont Hills schoolmate Stephanie Savides who told me that at age 16 she won the California State Open tournament i.e. she was the best female tennis player period in California. She has a daughter playing for M-A. She had seen Sara due to her friendship with a Sacred Heart coach and Sara’s personal coach, who is not Michael Jessup. And I noted later that although the outcome at number 1 singles was newsworthy, Menlo actually won the match 6 to 1.