High level college tennis players have long been a part of the Los Angeles Tennis Club’s history. Years ago, the courts hosted matches between rival UCLA and USC men’s tennis teams, both considered among the best college tennis programs in the nation. LATC members also provided lodging for players from the elite Davis Cup teams who played at the club in the 1950s and 1960s, before the Open Era of tennis brought more sponsorship opportunities for players.
That same spirit of hosting continued this summer when Rick Marin and and Ilene Rosenzweig opened their Windsor Square home to Paige Wise, a South African tennis player working at the club’s summer camp for kids.
The world of elite tennis training is small. The Marin/Rosenzweig family met Wise’s family at a tennis training academy in Spain last year, while both families were visiting family enrolled in the program. (Wise’s younger sister was in the the same program with Diego Marin.) At their invitation, Wise spent her spring break in Los Angeles when she found herself unable to go home due to U.S. COVID policies that closed South Africa to visitors for a time during a spike in infections. Afraid, she might not be allowed back, Wise came to LA instead. While she was here, LATC Head Tennis Pro Jerome Peri invited Wise to come back to teach during the summer, which is where we got a chance to meet Wise and watch her play.
Wise always knew she wanted to be a Wimbledon Champion from the time she was little, but her promising tennis career almost failed to launch. From an athletic family, where both parents have played sports at a professional level, her dad was a cricket player and her mom a squash player, Wise was encouraged to pursue her passion for tennis, which she began playing at the age of seven. At fifteen, Wise went to train at a tennis academy in Barcelona. She was in her second year there when her health started to fail.
“I started feeling flu-like symptoms and losing weight,” Wise told the Buzz. “My blood oxygen level dropped to 20; I became so weak, I couldn’t even walk.”
At 17, Wise was diagnosed with viral encephalitis and spent several months in the hospital, seriously ill. She spent the next year slowly recovering, learning to walk again and building up her strength. At first, she decided to give up tennis, but after a time she decided to try playing again. She rediscovered her love for the game and decided she wanted to go to college and try playing college tennis.
Though she got a late start, she was recruited to play for Division II Francis Marion College in South Carolina. As a freshman, Wise was selected the Player of the Year in Conference Carolinas. She ended the season undefeated, 17-0 in the No. 1 singles slot, with her team ending the season 14-6. She also finished with a 4.0 grade point average, studying business and finance. As a result, she was recruited to play for Division I Northwestern State University in Louisiana, where she has already started training for the fall season.
“College tennis has been so great for me,” Wise told us. “In many ways, it feels like life on the professional tour, but without all the pressure to make money.”
She said she loves the competition and being part of a team. She has even found time to play other sports, like water polo and field hockey. College has taught Wise to manage a rigorous athletic schedule as well as her academic schedule. She told the Buzz she hopes to finish college in three years, so she can try playing as a professional while she’s still fairly young (she’s just 20 years old!).
But Wise’s health scare has also taught her that there’s more to life than just tennis.
“I’ve learned that you can’t control everything and you just have to let some things go so you carry on, it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “For me, it’s about finding the balance.”
She also encourages young players to find ways to keep their passion for the game alive.
“You have to keep it fun,” said Wise. “Sometimes parents put too much pressure on young players. There’s a great big world outside of tennis, but tennis can be a great way to see it.”
Wise loved her visit to Los Angeles and made lots of new friends among the tennis club families. When we interviewed her she was housesitting for the Chou family. She told us her visit to LA gave her a new appreciation for the U.S. and she has thoroughly enjoyed a chance to explore Los Angeles. We expect to see her back in LA next summer.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
- Web |
- More Posts