Tennis pro representing La Jolla in South African tournament


Gretchen Magers has experienced many great things in her tennis career, playing in major professional tournaments in front of millions of people all across the globe. Now that she is retired from her pro career, she still stays involved with the game by working as a teaching professional and by competing in amateur tournaments.

Magers, a staff tennis professional at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, was recently named as the captain on the United States Young Cup team that will compete in South Africa next month.

Magers will join Renata Marcinkowska, Hyacinth Yorke and Mariana Hollman on the four-member team when the tournament is held in Durban, South Africa, April 17-22.

“It’s a fantastic honor to be chosen to represent the United States,” said Magers, who also played on the U.S. Young Cup team last year in Perth, Australia.

The Young Cup is an amateur competition that brings together national teams from all over the world in age groups that range from 35-85. Magers, 42, will compete in the event for a second time, and said she has enjoyed being involved in the game on a bit of a different level than she has been in the past.

“It’s not Wimbledon, and it’s not the U.S. Open,” Magers said. “But I think what makes it fun is that, as we age, our skills diminish, and the competitive nature doesn’t. So you kind of learn to do with what you’ve got, and that makes it fun. There’s an atmosphere of camaraderie and a love of the game, which makes it a little bit more lighthearted and fun, too.”

Magers, of course, reached the top of the tennis world during her professional career. Before retiring in 1993, she won two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles, won four WTA Tour doubles titles and won once in singles and once in doubles on the ITF Women’s Circuit.

She was ranked as high as third in singles competition in 1985 and 18th in doubles competition in 1990. Magers compiled a professional record of 191-139 in singles play and 193-141 in doubles, taking home more than $750,000 in prize money.

She said playing in the Young Cup is clearly a different animal than what she experienced as a pro, but she has enjoyed the atmosphere and the spirit of the event.

“There’s quite a lot of interest in it all over the world,” she said. “There are a lot of people who play tennis as they age, and it is quite an honor for the federations to send their teams to this event. There are some former pro players who play in it, so the caliber is quite high.”

Magers has been retired from playing tennis professionally for 13 years, but still keeps her hands in the game. She has worked as a teaching professional at a number of different private clubs, and the Point Loma resident joined the staff at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in September.

The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a 64-year-old club in La Jolla that was named one of the top 75 tennis resorts by Tennis Resorts Online in 2005. It hosted first-round matches for the Davis Cup this year, and annually is home to the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championships, the USTA National Hard Court Championships for women, age groups 50-90 and USTA National Men’s and Women’s 40 and over Hard Court Championships.

Bringing in a player of Magers’ caliber has been a significant positive for the club, and the club’s president said having her named to captain the Young Cup team reflects well on the club.

“We are very proud of Gretchen Magers and her accomplishments on the court,” said Bill Kellogg, the president of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. “Her selection to the Young Cup team for the second year in a row is a testament to her tennis talent and good sportsmanship. She is truly a great asset, not only for the United States, but for the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club as well.”

Magers said she is on the court four days a week there, which leaves her a couple days each week to maintain her own game. That’s plenty of time to prepare, and she’s looking forward to getting the competitive juices going again.

“Tennis is a small world,” she said. “The tennis community and the people that play competitive tennis understand that it’s an honor, but to the average person who plays tennis a couple times a week it doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. It is a nice honor, and anytime you get to go anywhere like this, it’s a great experience.

“You learn something every time you go out there.”