Dave Houston is a lifelong tennis player and if you were to ask him how much he likes the game, he’ll tell you he doesn’t. He loves it.
Last month, Houston, in partnership with Half Moon Bay High School’s girls varsity tennis team, organized a tournament at Half Moon Bay High School. The Aug. 25 event came with entry fees between $35 to $45 for 32 players competing in 93 matches. The team raised $,120 in the one-day event.
Under the banner of the Coastside Tennis Association, Houston coordinated the co-ed singles event through Universal Tennis Rating, a centralized ranking index built to connect players based on their online ranking. Funded by Oracle, it doesn’t sort players based on age or gender. Instead, it accounts for the level of opponents and the final score. As a verified tournament, the entry fee was higher and all scores were weighted toward player rankings.
“I had this vision for tennis a long time ago, like a lot of us did,” Houston said. “If tennis had a better rating system, it would bring more of a boon to the game. More people could join events, and it’s a better way to find a good match.”
With players from as far away as San Rafael and Aptos, and player ages ranging from teens to 50s, the competition had a diverse skillset and background. Juan Jaysingh, of Palo Alto, was the highest-rated player in the tournament at 8.49, and won the first flight against three competitors all above 7.5. By contrast, four students who had little to no tennis experience were grouped together with an average rating of 1.3.
Leilani Hereford, a freshman at Half Moon Bay and the only girl in her flight of four, only dropped one set en route to winning her bracket. She won her first set, 1-4, 4-1, and earned a tiebreaker victory, 10-7. She then beat Alexander Lark, 4-2, 4-0, before winning against fellow freshman Brian Booher ,4-3, 4-2.
Girls coach Harriet Ragozin stayed for nearly the entirety of the tournament, helping Houston group players by level. She had 12 of her team members on the court. Because the team’s roster size grew from last season, Ragozin will use the funds for new uniforms before the season kicks off at home against Menlo-Atherton on Sept. 12.
“It was great for getting ready for the season, getting beginners experienced with the match,” Ragozin. “It was a friendly, unintimidating way to get introduced to it.”