There is an old adage that is often repeated by old jocks: “The older I get, the better I was.”
With coach and tennis pro Doug Failla, the opposite is true. Not that Doug was all that bad in his youth. He was on Ramona’s first championship tennis team and was an all-league and all-CIF performer at Ramona High School. He went on to earn All American honors in college.
However, Doug’s recent accomplishments are overshadowing those of his youth. On a professional level, Doug has recently been certified as Professional 1 rating by the United States Professional Tennis Association, the oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals in the world.
Only the top 5 percent of tennis professionals earn a Professional 1 rating.
One must be a Professional 1 before one can earn the rating of Master Professional. It takes about 10 years to become a Master Professional. Doug is working on that goal.
The final rankings for the 45-and- over singles players were recently released and Doug is ranked fifth in the United States.
Doug jokingly clarified those rankings, “I am a singles player and not a single player. I am very happily married.”
Being fifth in the United States was not enough for Doug so he entered the International Tennis Federation’s Seniors World Individual Championships. The championship tournament was held at Morgan Run in Rancho Santa Fe.
Because of his rankings Doug received a bye in the first round. He opened play with a second round win over Tuomas Kivisto of Finland with scores of 6-1, 2-6, and 6-2. Failla then beat the former number one player in the world, Stefan Fasthoff of Germany in straight sets 6-2 and 6-2.
In the fourth round he beat Eric Hottinger of Switzerland 6-2 and 6-4. He lost in the quarter final round to Karl Hale of Canada to finish in the Elite Eight in the world.
Doug’s title at the Riviera Oaks Resort and Racquet Club is tennis director. He is also coach of the girls and boys varsity tennis teams at Ramona High School.
Doug Failla is an ambassador for the sport of tennis. He has represented his schools, the Ramona community and the United States in competitions, and he has done it with dignity and class. He has inspired his students of all ages to play and enjoy tennis as a lifelong sport. Refer to my March 8 column about winners and losers, and Doug personifies all that was written about winners, both as a player and a coach.
The only thing harder than beating Doug on the court is getting him to brag about his accomplishments. Doug, if you can do it, and have done it, it isn’t bragging.