USTA NorCal Hall of Fame adds two ex-Stanford All-Americans


Five new members of the USTA Northern California Hall of Fame were inducted on Thursday at Stanford University, including former Stanford standouts Matt Mitchell and Marianne Werdel.

Mitchell made a name for himself in Northern California as the No. 1 player in his age group every other year, while also getting national attention winning four national junior titles.

He starred at Gunn High, where he won the Central Coast Section singles title in 1974 and was part of the Titans' historic winning streak of 200 straight matches. Mitchell also helped keep alive Gunn's streak of seven consecutive section team titles from 1972-78.

Mitchell later was a three-time All-American at Stanford and helped the Cardinal to a pair of NCAA team titles. He also won the NCAA singles crown in 1977. He turned pro in 1979 and earned one ATP title in his career.

Werdel earned All-American honors at Stanford in 1986 and helped the Cardinal win the NCAA team title that season. But, when her tennis game was up, her grades were down, and conversely, when her grades were up, her tennis game suffered.

The summer after her freshman year, she stepped up her game and garnered wins over two of the top-10 players and her ranking went up to 23. She had a hard decision but ultimately decided to turn pro.

She enjoyed an 11-year pro career, from 1986-1997, with a career-high ranking of 21,and was ranked in the top-50 nine of those years. In 1995, she was a member of the US Federation Cup team and a semi-finalist in the Australian Open Singles, with a win over Gabriella Sabatini in the first round. She had other notable career wins against tennis greats Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario and Gabriela Sabatini.

Other Hall of Fame inductees included Bill Jacobson of Los Altos Hills, current Cal men's tennis coach Peter Wright and former touring pro Wayne Ferreira.

Jacobson did play tennis, but it was his creation of a tennis statistics program that put him on the map.

After moving to the United States in 1959, he took up an academic scholarship at Stanford's graduate school of business and retired from tournament tennis.

After spending more than 15 years in the high-tech industry, Jacobson realized he could actually change the way the game was watched, coached and communicated to players and mass audiences through computers. As a hobby, he began charting matches and put the data into computers for better analysis.

He eventually formed a company and created CompuTennis CT120, the world's first and best tennis analysis computer. By 1990, they had equipment, programs and operators in over 25 countries and at over 100 U.S. colleges and universities. In 1984 they covered their first Olympic Games in Los Angeles and repeated at the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona.

Computerized statistics are now used for all matches at all Grand Slam, ATP, WTA, Federation Cup and Davis Cup events for the print media, TV, players and coaches.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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