National tennis titles weren’t the only thing Brenda Humphrey and Shelly Stillman-Scott were collecting this summer.
“There are a lot of mothers and daughters that don’t get to create neat memories like this,’’ Shelly said.
Brenda has lived in Encinitas since 1946, back when her parents farmed the land. Shelly, now of Virginia, has North County roots and a branch of those include tennis.
That’s because her mother often held court at Cardiff’s Glen Park and Encinitas’ Moonlight Beach venues.
Brenda would help establish the San Dieguito Tennis Club in 1966 while raising a clan where tennis was the talk 24/7.
“Our whole family plays and our whole social life would revolve around our friends at the San Dieguito Tennis Club,’’ Brenda said. “Not only was tennis great exercise but it was great fun.’’
Brenda and Shelly had a blast at this year’s United States Tennis Association national events in the super senior mother/daughter division. Brenda, 75, and Shelly, 58, won three of the four titles, a sweep of doubles success that was stunning and spectacular.
“I have a good partner,’’ Shelly said. “That is my secret.”
Word quickly got out that getting Brenda and Shelly in the draw was as comforting as a double fault. They rolled to victories on indoor surfaces in Washington, on grass in Massachusetts and atop clay in Florida.
It was their fantastic feat on clay that stood out, according to Shelly.
“To earn a gold ball (championship) on clay was significant,” she said. “We hadn’t done very well on that surface so to win that was awesome.”
Shelly, a semi-retired teaching pro, does most the heavy lifting. That’s true of any mother-daughter tandem, with the younger player trying to score points by directing balls to the elder partner on the opposite side.
But when rockets off rackets were sent Brenda’s way, they were promptly returned to their sender with gusto and depth.
Twice in events Brenda had to counter offerings from former University of California, Santa Barbara, players and they discovered it was no day at the beach tracking her returns.
“Some of these women have huge serves and they hit them like men,” Shelly said. “But she was able to get the ball back and hit some winners.”
Brenda could flex her muscles, but why show off. She displayed enough grit this summer that it had her daughter tipping her tennis cap in her mother’s direction.
“She used to be a serve-and-volley player, but she doesn’t come in as much behind her serve at 75,” Shelly said. “But she has gotten really fit and that has helped her quickness. I was really impressed the way in which she played this summer. It was the best we had ever played together.”
That’s saying something as they’ve been competing in USTA events since 1984. There were breaks in between tournaments, with them residing and working on opposite ends of the country.
The awards and backslaps are grand, but Shelly accumulated more than the trophies. The opportunity to hang out with a woman who is caring and kind made the time memorable.
Brenda is as sweet as a fluid down-the-line backhand, until it comes to someone keeping score.
“She’s not a jerk, she’s actually very nice,” Shelly said. “But she loves tennis and is more passionate about it than anything else. She is very competitive and very tough.”
And she’s very proud of her daughter who earned the first female tennis scholarship at the University of Virginia. There’s nothing cavalier about that, and that also goes for facing the duo with an Encinitas pedigree.
“She’s a really good doubles player,” Brenda said. “But I think I held up my end of it, too.”
They ended up hoisting three USTA national trophies and what’s not to love about that?