FAMILY AFFAIR; JENNY MUNROE REARED IN TENNIS.
His scheduled pupil for a tennis lesson was a no-show so Dave Munroe reluctantly introduced his 3-year-old daughter to the game with which he had grown up.
Jenny Munroe used to tag along with her father, who followed his father, Phil, around the courts. Dave eventually joined Phil, the former Cal State Northridge coach and professor, as a tennis instructor.
``(Jenny) used to come with me and shag balls. She always wanted to be there,'' said Dave Munroe, now the girls' basketball coach at Hart High School, where 14-year-old Jenny is the Indians' No. 1 singles player and one of the top young players in Southern California.
``One day a lesson didn't show up and we had nothing else to do. I wanted to wait until Jenny was four or five, but I had a small racket so I gave her a couple of balls to hit. It was going to happen sooner or later,'' Dave Munroe said.
He was amazed at his daughter's eye-hand coordination, first dropping the ball in front of her, pitching it underhand 12 feet to 15 feet away and finally feeding balls from behind the net.
``I got excited then,'' Dave said. ``I figured `Gee, we better do this more often.' ''
Dave Munroe also grew up in a tennis background. His father was the Matadors coach from 1973-80. Phil Munroe retired after 30 years at the school and now resides in Colorado.
Dave was the No. 1 singles player at Granada Hills High but concentrated more on basketball, playing at CSUN when the school was known as San Fernando State. When his basketball career ended, he turned to teaching and coaching. He coached all of his daughter's softball teams and fine-tuned her development in tennis.
``I always wanted to be (at the tennis courts for Dave's lessons). Dad didn't want me to be there,'' Jenny said. ``(Tennis) was so much fun to play.''
At 8, Jenny competed in her first tournament, a satellite event in Calabasas. She lost in the final to a 9-year-old.
She played in USTA events sponsored by the Ventura Junior Tennis Club, earning a No. 1 ranking at the age of 10. At 12, she was ranked 36th by the Southern California Tennis Association.
Jenny could not maintain her ranking only because she missed too many tournaments. While most junior tennis player devote all of their time to the game, Jenny was passionate about softball, playing for her father on the William S. Hart Rec B team in Valencia.
``I liked softball better,'' she confessed. ``But it just seemed to get slow. I wasn't involved all the time. With tennis, it's just you on the court.''
She then turned to basketball and will suit up for Hart's junior varsity team in the winter, helping her tennis game in the process.
``When you're young, the more sports you play, the better you'll be. For a lot of these kids (tennis) is all they'll do,'' Dave Munroe said. ``She uses the footwork and the up-and-down running in basketball. A bunt in softball is similar to a volley.''
In terms of volleying, Jenny is not your average young player. While many in the women's game (the top professionals included) are content with slugging it out at the baseline, Jenny comes to the net whenever possible.
``I'd love to see more net play in both singles and doubles,'' Hart coach Steve Love said. ``She is not content with staying back at the baseline.''
Jenny is ranked 19th among 14-year-olds in the latest SCTA poll. Basketball commitments dropped her from 42nd to 62nd in the spring. But in the final four tournaments of the summer, Jenny won three of them and lost in the finals of another.
``My goal is to get a college scholarship, anything else is just extra,'' said Jenny, referring to a possible professional career. ``And I get a car with a scholarship (from her dad).''
``She's a student of the game. She watched the U.S. Open and used what she can to apply it to her game,'' Dave Munroe said. ``Our motto is `Play hard and have fun.' ''
Photo: Three generations of Munrloes, Phil (left), Dave and Jenny, have been involved in tennis. Jenny has played other sports, too.
Special to the Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 13, 1997|
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