The surface might change but the results seldom do for Del Mar’s tennis ace, Cathie Anderson.
“On clay, the ball bounces a little higher and a little slower,” Anderson said. “On the hard courts, the balls are going by you like bullets and you think, ‘When did you learn to hit the ball hard like that?’”
Anderson, along with numerous others with North County ties, is competing in the upcoming United States Tennis Association National Women’s 50-90 Hard Court Championships at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
“It is such a beautiful place and players from all over the world will be coming here,” Anderson said. “I used to come here before I even moved here.”
Anderson has been chasing that fuzzy yellow ball — and the accolades that go with prevailing — since she was 6 years old. While being raised in the Buckeye State, Anderson looked for a bull’s eye on the tennis court.
With her precision strokes, a competitive gene and a joy for the game, Anderson, who turns 80 in December, is still swinging all these years later.
She’s hung her racket in Del Mar for more than three decades, always eager to head for the nearest court.
“My parents wanted me to be well-rounded so they had me take golf and tennis lessons and everything else,” Anderson said. “They didn’t expect me to focus on just one sport and I’ve been playing it ever since.”
Anderson grew up in Dayton, Ohio, while growing weary of its long winters. She was bent on heading west, although the future map-maker should have studied her destination.
Cue Mark Twain as Anderson missed his quote that he may, or may not, have said: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Anderson attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she was on the tennis team, or what passed for one before Title IX. There were no scholarships or extended road trips for the women, just an abundance of love for tennis.
But not an abundance of sunshine.
“I wanted to be in warm weather and play year-round,” she said. “I didn’t realize Berkeley, while it wasn’t cold like Ohio, it wasn’t always warm.”
Anderson kept serving and returning her assignments for good grades, graduating in 1964. She became a cartographer and made and studied maps for top-shelf architecture firms and the City of San Francisco.
She also continued to give lessons. When spreading her wisdom at the Oakland Hills Tennis Club, she was hit not by an errant groundstroke, but by an epiphany.
“It would get so cold up there with the fog coming through the Golden Gate Bridge,” she said. “I was coaching in my long underwear and I decided if I was going to keep teaching, I wanted to be somewhere warmer, so we moved to San Diego.”
Anderson ditched her maps and beat a path to the San Diego Tennis & Racquet Club. She taught there for years, all the while participating in USTA age-group competitions, where rivals groan when spotting a draw that has her as an opponent.
“You never get tired of winning,” she said.
Anderson, a member of the Southern California Senior Tennis Hall of Fame, has done that and we’ve got the receipts. She’s earned more than 100 USTA gold, silver and bronze balls that go to the medalists at the national age-group competitions.
She’s also a regular on the U.S. senior women’s teams, playing all over the world for the Red, White and Blue.
Anderson will forgo her hotel points in La Jolla starting May 16, and guess what? She wants to win yet again.
“One more,” she said, with a grin.
On any surface, Anderson always aims to do just that.
USTA National Women’s 50-90 Hard Court Championships
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
North County players:
Carlsbad: Carrie Adelson Del Mar: Cathie Anderson
Encinitas: Shari Hume, Michele Aguilar, Natalia Moskaleva, Debra Reilly, Caron Schraeder, Kelly Villasenor
Escondido: Brianna Sullivan
Oceanside: Kristie Alva
Solana Beach: Barbara Osthaus