My childhood years could have easily been noted around what tennis grand slam was on tv. My house was always filled with some kind of sporting activity, but most notable was tennis (ok Penn State football ranks pretty high up there too). My dad and mom were both Physical Education teachers, my dad played, taught, and coached tennis (boys varsity at Glendora High) and my brother played as well. I on the other hand didn’t get into tennis as an athlete but rather as an avid fan.
With my dad so heavily involved in tennis in Glendora, it was natural that a friendship through the game would develop with Paul Baiotto. Paul was the face of tennis in Glendora. He created a junior tennis program, taught tennis for 15 years, played and was the brain child behind the successful Southern California top tennis tournament, The Glendora Tennis Championships. Paul and my dad would spend countless hours huddled in Paul’s house determining all the details that took weeks and weeks to organize and coordinate. The seeds for each division, the matches (and the complex scheduling when someone plays in more than 2 divisions), the court schedules, the locations, the volunteers, the officials, the equipment, the maintenance of the courts, the marketing, the admin work, and on and on and on.
In the first few years of my dad’s involvement, my mom, brother and I ran the snack booth. We’d drag our wagon filled with frozen lemonade and orange juice (remember the containers with the foil wrapper on top) around the courts at Glendora High and sell hot dogs and treats out of the bigger stand.
The tournament ran from 1961-2003 and took over Citrus College, Goddard Middle school, Glendora High and several other locations. As the tournament matured more and more divisions were added including a father & son division. Each year my brother and dad would participate and of course my mom and I were there cheering them on. The tournament grew to include ages from 8-90 competing in every division you can think of: singles, doubles, mixed doubles, father/son, father/daughter, open, senior, junior and NTRP divisions, totaling between 700-1500 entries each year.
As my dad has mentioned many times, Paul was amazing with the details and the players. Players would come from all over to play in Glendora. They loved the tournament and they loved how Paul executed it. When Paul passed away in 2012, there was an immediate thought, let’s honor Paul. It seems only fitting that a man who loved tennis and dedicated 40 years to running one of the most successful tennis championships in Southern California should have the tennis courts dedicated to him.
So today at 3pm, at Glendora High School, the ceremony to honor Paul will take place. If you love tennis, live in Glendora or just want to show your respect for an amazing community builder, please come and join us.
For more about Paul and the dedication check out this article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Photo of Paul and one of his students. Image provided by the Baiotto family.