News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Bruce Fenn takes the reins as girls tennis head coach

Bruce Fenn was recently hired as Sisters High School’s new head coach for girls tennis. He’s passionate about the sport and has devoted his life to playing, coaching, and teaching tennis. He’s a certified tennis teaching professional with the USPTA (United States Professional Teaching Association).

Fenn always thought and dreamed of being a basketball star, but when he joined the tennis team in high school his dreams shifted. From that point on he’s played the sport, coached numerous high school squads, and taught private lessons as a pro.

Fenn played tennis for Roseburg High School, and in his senior year, 1966, the team won the state championship. Fenn played both singles and doubles and finished as a semifinalist in doubles. The team only lost one match the entire year.

He went on to play tennis at Mesa Junior College in Arizona and while there the team won the Arizona State Junior College Championship (1968). Fenn played in tournaments all through junior college.

After a two-year mission trip for his church, Fenn enrolled at Brigham Young University. He was there for two years and then transferred to the University of Oregon (U of O) where he graduated with a bachelor’s of science (1974). While attending college, he continued to play tennis at every opportunity he was given.

He was going to play tennis for U of O, but the tennis programs were dropped due to Title IX (equal school scholarships for men and women).

After graduation from U of O, he participated in numerous tournaments around the northwest and also in New York.

Fenn got his first official coaching job at Woodbury Racket Club in Plainview Long Island, New York. (1980) While in New York, Fenn continued to play in tournaments and was ranked in singles play.

In the mid-1980s Fenn participated in the Pacific NW Open Championships. He traveled to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, part of Montana, and part of British Columbia, Canada. He was ranked No. 2 in doubles in the NW (age bracket 35-40), and was also ranked No. 13 in singles play.

He attended the USTA (United States tennis Association) Nationals in Boston and won the National Championship at No. 2 singles, which was an open class for players of all ages.

“The kid I played against was about 22 years old and I beat him 6-2, 6-2,” said Fenn. “It felt wonderful because I didn’t even know I was going to play No. 2 singles. I’d been playing mostly doubles so far in the tournament, and the last day the team met together and voted me in as a No. 2 singles player. When I walked off the court one of the wives told me it was the best tennis she’d ever seen me play.”

Fenn coached all over the country from then on, as a varsity high school coach and as a professional at private tennis clubs. While coaching at St. Joseph’s High School in Pennsylvania, Fenn got his master’s in school counseling from the University of Scranton (1994).

In the summer of 1994 he moved back to Roseburg, where he grew up and was the head pro at the Umpqua Valley tennis Club, and also the boys varsity tennis coach.

One of Fenn’s most memorable and satisfying times of his career came while he was in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In 2001, Fenn moved to Bowling Green, and when he arrived he was surprised that both the high school’s eight courts and the 12 courts at the Division 1 Bowling Green State University were in terrible condition.

“The tennis courts were in horrible shape,” said Fenn. “In fact, the cracks and broken spots were so big and deep it was impossible to play on.

“When I saw the condition of the courts at the college I knew that the neglect was because administrators with authority paid little attention to the tennis programs in town,” said Fenn. “I had a meeting with professors that loved to play tennis, thinking to get their support for a new ‘Community tennis Program’ sponsored by the United States tennis Association.”

At that meeting they emphatically told Fenn that no one cared about tennis in Bowling Green and that Fenn was wasting his time trying.

Fenn and Andy Drumm, also an interested tennis player, didn’t listen but forged ahead. They organized the Bowling Green Community tennis Association, which was bonded, insured, and incorporated in the bylaws of the USTA with eight volunteer board members, Fenn as president, and Drumm as vice president.

Things changed rapidly, and when Fenn left in 2014 the Association had over 200 juniors playing, and four adult USTA league teams. During that time, the high school decided to build eight new beautiful courts and the college decided to do the same.

Fenn retired in 2014 and moved to Utah to be close to family, and while there was the pro at Vassa Fitness and tennis.

In July of 2021 Fenn left Utah and moved to Crooked River Ranch to be closer to his daughter. Fenn met Bim Gander (former Sisters High School tennis coach) and Alan and Rebecca VonStein (former girls tennis coach). They quickly became friends, and VonStein encouraged Fenn to apply as the girls tennis coach at SHS.

He’s met several of the players and he’s excited for the season ahead, and once again coaching the sport he loves.

“I want to build the program.

I love the game and I have such a passion for it, and the game is good for the girls for so many reasons,” he said.

“It builds confidence, it builds commitment, it shows them how to handle adversity, and it teaches sportsmanship.

To me it’s a microcosm of life.

In life you have ups and downs and challenges to face.

In tennis, there are ups and downs every single shot, and every single point there is adversity.

There’s someone trying to cause you to mess up and not be successful.

How we handle that adversity teaches us how to handle life’s difficulties when they come up as well.

To me, it’s the greatest game in the world because of those reasons.”


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