By Connie and Lynn Baer
In 1924, the Grossmont Girls and Boys Tennis Teams consisted of eight girls and two boys. Having only dirt surface courts on campus, we can only imagine the challenges of coaching and playing. From 1935–36, the Works Progress Administration built the first tennis courts on campus. While those courts are gone, there is one WPA cement bench remaining, with a small bronze plaque proclaiming its historic origins.
Girls tennis team
In the past 95 years, the girls have won 26 league championships under a number of coaches. Since 1995, Grossmont High School alumnus and Spanish teacher, Hillary Park, Class of 1988, has been the coach, and was herself a three-year varsity tennis player during her years at Grossmont. Under her leadership, the teams have won 13 league championships; from 1999–2008, the team won 10 consecutive championships.
“I am blessed to be able to do what I love — coach and teach,” park said.
More recently, last year’s team players were the Valley League Division III Champions and qualified for CIF. Seven players qualified for individual CIF, with all three singles players qualifying.
“This 2015 team has been one of the most cohesive ever,” Park said last year. “It has been great fun for players and coaches.”
This year’s varsity team has 13 players, eight of them returning players. There are 19 students on the junior varsity team. Coach Park professes that much of the team’s success is due to involved and supportive parents, 10-year assistant coach Wayne Eddington, and third year volunteer coach Amy Nicholson, GHS Class of 2006.
Boys tennis team
From 1939 to today, the boys tennis teams have won 41 league championships. Long-time coach, John Crippen coached from 1935 to 1946. In that time, his teams won four championships. Upon his retirement, the yearbook proclaimed that he “has done much to foster the higher ideals of sportsmanship in Grossmont.”
From 1957 to 1971, the boys teams won a mind-boggling 15 straight league championships. Mel Schetselar, tennis coach from 1962 to 1975, led his teams to an amazing 12 straight championships. From 1969 to 2009, the teams won a total of 21 championships. The numbers are a testament to the effort and skill of both coaches and players.
Today’s teams are continuing this tradition. Due to the team winning the Grossmont Valley League Championship in 2014, last year the 2016 boys tennis team was elevated to the Grossmont Hills League and finished in second place. Player Kent Abbott (52 wins and five losses in singles), Jake Johnson, and Josh Kan (48 and six in doubles), who were all seeded first in the league championships, led the team.
Kent Abbott was selected 2016 Grossmont Hills League MVP and is the returning All-San Diego Section Boys Tennis player. Last year’s team qualified three entrants into the CIF Championships, the most in recent history, which bodes well for the future of Grossmont boys’ tennis.
“I like coaching boys’ tennis because they are very nice kids with good grades and behavior,” said science teacher and fourth-year GHS Coach Paul Hedberg. “It is a blast playing with them and they even let me win occasionally. We look forward to another enjoyable season this year with nearly all players returning and the addition of a number of good athletes to the ranks. Go, ‘Hillers!”
To learn more about Grossmont’s wonderful athletic programs, visit the GHS Museum: noon–4 p.m. Oct. 5 or other Wednesdays by appointment. Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-668-6140.
—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.