I was born in Indonesia and lived there for a total of about 10 years. First until I was 8.
At that time I went to Holland with the help of the Red Cross with my mom, dad, and sister Louise. My first 8 years in Indonesia were very tough. I was poisoned when I was 3 by one of the chauffeurs my dad fired. My dad was Dutch born in Indonesia and worked for Good Year. My mom is Dutch and her parents were Dutch and Scottish. I survived the poisoning because I apparently was a little piglet and ate a lot.
Then the war broke out. My father was captured and put in a Japanese concentration camp. My mom had false papers that she was Danish and stuck to her words even after she was being tortured. I am not going into detail now, maybe later. After the war the Indonesians wanted their independence from the Dutch and tried to kill the Dutch. All the Dutch families decided to go to this emptied Japanese concentration camp because they felt it best to gather in numbers.
We had no protection and one night the Indonesians came to one part of the camp and massacred hundreds of Dutch men, women, and children. We were waiting for our turn when an English patrol set us free. Hooray for the English! I will tell the whole story more in detail later.
The English shipped us in trucks and old ships from Middle Java to West Java then to the capital then called Batavia and changed later to Jakarta.
I was now 8 and went to school for the first time. After being in Jakarta for about 1 year the Red Cross shipped us to Holland. It was a very difficult experience for the whole family. It lasted 2 years and my dad decided to go back to Indonesia. It seemed things were better and safe again in Jakarta. So we all went back again. However, it became very dangerous for Dutch people. A lot of kidnapping, killings, and shootings.
My dad sent my mother, sister, myself, and newly arrived brother back to Holland while he stayed and tried to save his company.
I was now about 12, and went to school in Holland and played soccer. At 13 a friend took me to a group work out and that’s how I was introduced to tennis.
Only played about 6 months a year. We had no indoor courts. I played soccer or field hockey and skated. In 1960 my parents decided to immigrate, We left for California. Getting to San Diego was a great experience. I played some tennis. Didn’t really know what to do in this foreign country. In 1962, I played in a tournament, beat the number 1 player from Pepperdine, and I was offered a scholarship. I played number 1 for Pepperdine singles and doubles and became All-American.
In 1967 I started teaching in San Diego at Morley Field and from there I went to the Jack Kramer Club. I put the Kramer Club on the map as the place where champions were built. It never happened before I was there or after I left.
I have great stories about my 8 years at the Jack Kramer Club. That is where I met up with Tracy Austin at 7 years old, Eliot Teltscher at 10, John Austin at 10. The Fernendez girls, 2 sets of twins, one of which was Maria Fernendez who excelled and got as high as 20 in the world. Trey Lewis who was a great talent with a great one-handed backhand.
I had a lot of students that were not members such as Robert Van Hoff – who later became Davenport’s traveling coach – Bnau Teacher who became 9 in the world and was going to UCLA. Then I went to the West End Tennis Club and started working with Sampras, Davenport, Joyce Tarango, Rehe, Hummel, Melissa Guerney, The Basica’s – and of course my own daughter Stephanie, who became a great player and All American at ASU.
Then I went to the Riviera Tennis Club and Maria Sharapova came to see me. She was 10, almost 11. Her dad Yuri saw Davenport in the US Open. I was there, and he decided that he wanted his daughter to hit the ball like Davenport. He had IMG call me, and that’s how the 8 year relationship with Maria started.
Yuri was smart and wasn’t long before Maria had the same groundies basically as Lindsay – hard, fairly flat, penetrating strokes. That”s the way to play!
Eventually, the freeway drive became too much and I started teaching at a public facility in the South Bay for a while. Then about 7 years ago I got a divorce and after getting over it, a friend of mine, Joe Guarrasi, offered me his court in Palos Verdes. I have been there ever since and have no desire to go anywhere else. I love it there! **- Very proud of my daughter Stephanie. She is following in my footsteps and doing a great job as a coach at West End Tennis Club in Torrance – Go Steph!*