Article about Pauline Elliott-a Kiwi player of the 1970s.
LOL@ her comment about playing Evonne Goolagong!
Marin Snapshot: Pauline Hanson a motivating tennis pro
Posted: 09/27/2008 11:03:20 PM PDT
Longtime tennis instructor and one-time world-ranked athlete Pauline Hanson volleys against a student at Rolling Hills Club in Novato. (IJ photo/Frankie Frost)
PAULINE HANSON has been a tennis instructor at Meridian's Rolling Hills Club in Novato since 1987 and she ought to know what she's talking about. Beginning at the age of 15, she was a national juniors champion in New Zealand who became a world-ranked player, competed in the Federation Cup and made the main draw at the U.S. Open in singles and doubles in 1977.
Three Achilles tendon surgeries ended her pro tennis career, so she turned to running and qualified for the 1984 Olympic marathon trials, though she couldn't compete in the U.S. trials because she wasn't an American citizen. This year, at the age of 52, she earned her U.S. citizenship and also was invited to be a member of the International Tennis Club of New Zealand. For the past 15 years, she has been married to Jack Hanson, former KGO reporter and host of Comcast Local Edition. They first met on Court 5 at the club where he interviewed her for a charity event. They have a son, Elliott, who is a freshman at San Marin High.
Q: How did you become the tennis instructor at Rolling Hills Club?
A: I was actually at a USTA convention in Carmel and the pro here was there and he was looking for a woman pro. He said, "Can you come out and look at the club?" and that was it. I never even looked anywhere else. I loved the place. I loved the people.
Q: What is the most unusual or funny thing that's happened while you've been giving tennis lessons?
A: We had this guy here and he'd walk around with this racing gown on
with "Mr. Wonderful' on it and he'd have his shorts on the outside of his pants. Looking back it actually was kind of fun. It was very weird but light-hearted. We thought it was strange and we wondered where we were working. It was more relaxed and loose.
Q: What impact do you think you've had on the people who have taken lessons from you?
A: My style is more about motivating. I like them to learn how to play the game. I want them to get the same enjoyment out of playing. It's not the good (players) excelling and doing something outstanding that excites me the most, but the players who say "I'm too old," or "I'm not coordinated" or "I could never play tennis well." You just sort of throw the gauntlet down. They're the ones I would love to have because I know I can teach them to play.
Q: What do people ask you if they know you played professional tennis?
A: "Who is the most famous person you played?" I say Evonne Goolegong. I played her twice and that was the year she won Wimbledon so she was at her best. Then they usually ask, "Did you beat her?" and I say, "Would I really be here if I did?"
Q: Why did you start running marathons?
A: Running a marathon always appealed to me. I liked the adversity part of it. I liked that challenge. When I was living in Southern California, I decided I was going to run my first marathon. I had never run that distance before and I ended up winning it. I was only about 45 seconds off the Olympic trials qualifying time and I literally didn't know what I was doing. When the gun went off, I started. When the finish line was there, I stopped. That kind of got me hooked."
Q: Why did it take so long for you to be invited into the International Tennis Club of New Zealand?
A: They sent me a letter and were actually quite apologetic. They said I should have been in years ago. Chris Lewis, who in '83 got to the finals of Wimbledon and played John McEnroe, he was the one who got me in. I was talking to him on the phone and somewhere along the line he said, "You're a member of the I.C. , aren't you? And I said, "No," and he said. "Why not? You should be." Somehow he got the ball rolling.