by Fred Allemann
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., Many players competing at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler Senior 4.0 National Championship like to boast about how long their teams have played together. None can match the partnership of doubles partners Herb Tout and Lance Turner from Oak Park (Stockton, California) representing the USTA Northern California Section.
Tout and teammate Turner played #1 doubles together on their high school varsity team at Stockton’s Stagg High School in 1971. “We didn’t lose a match our entire senior year,” boast Turner, “and we had a blast.”
Another member of the Oak Park Senior Men’s 4.0 team, Bob Klinger, also played tennis for the same Stockton high school, named after famous Notre Dame football coach and Stockton native, Amos Alonzo Stagg. Tout says, “I didn’t know Bob that well as he was a couple of years younger than Lance and me, but he was friends with my younger brother.”
Tout and Turner graduated from Stagg in 1971, but quickly fell out of contact with each other. Turner went on to play the #1 spot of the University of the Pacific varsity tennis team in Stockton while studying to be a dentist. Meanwhile Tout moved with his family to Southern California right after graduating. After various stops around the county, Tout’s settled in the small Central Valley city of Columbia in Tuolumne County.
The two reunited in the early ‘90s. “We ran into each other at a local adult tournament,” states Tout, “and not long after that, we were back on court together, competing in tournaments. It’s been great.” Both men turned 55 years old this year and are now ranked #11 in the Men’s 55 and older tournament division in the USTA Northern California section. “It helps to be the youngest in the Men’s 55s,” adds Tout.
Tennis became an even bigger part of Turner’s life after his wife passed away in the late ‘90s. “I’m a single parent with a beautiful 14-year-old daughter, Leia,” states Turner. “She’s a freshman and just made the tennis team at Lincoln High School.”
Last year, Turner retired as a dentist to focus all his efforts on his real passion: growing tennis in the California Central Valley. “Our organization, the San Joaquin Valley Tennis Association, is now operating tennis programs at 18 public parks throughout the valley.” In February of 2000, Turner’s efforts were honored when he received the prestigious Eve Kraft Award for Service to Community Tennis at the USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop in Las Vegas.
“I’m having a great time on this team,” says Turner. “Herb and I are good friends after all these years, and it’s super to be here in steamy Indian Wells vying for a national title.”
Tout adds, “We’re from Stockton and used to extreme heat. In our first match, we’re playing a team from the rainy Pacific Northwest so we’re hoping it hits 100 degrees.”
Tout and Turner didn’t reprise their past in their first match Friday morning. Instead, Tout paired with Bob Lubbock and scored a 6-1, 6-0 win in just 55 minutes, while Turner and his partner clinched the win over Pacific Northwest by winning a tough match tiebreak, 10-8. With a two more team matches in round-robin play on Friday and Saturday, the former high school teammates may reunite on court once more this weekend.