High school tennis fosters lifelong friendships

By Annette Malloy and Haley Fuller | August 02, 2023

Tennis is a family affair for the Corwins and Kleins of Elm Grove, Wisc.


Timon Corwin and Tim Klein have played together since the 1970s, when they took private tennis lessons with Dave Saxe at Brook Club in addition to group lessons. The pair were in the same ninth-grade class, and spent hours together playing tennis, training and traveling to tournaments. As their serves and groundstrokes grew stronger, so did their friendship.


The best friends became on-court competitors at the 1982 Wisconsin State Individual Tournament. They went to different high schools, with Timon Corwin playing for Brookfield Central High School and Klein representing Brookfield East High School—crosstown rivals with strong tennis programs. Corwin and Klein faced each other in the semifinals, and Corwin prevailed to move into the final.


Both agreed that it was one of their most memorable matches, partially because it was one of Corwin’s few high school wins against his friend.

“We weren’t rivals because Tim always won,” Corwin said. “I went years without ever winning a set.” 


High school tennis has continued to be an important part of Corwin and Klein’s lives. All of the children in both families, now aged 18 to 31, have played high school tennis at Brookfield East and were on at least one state championship team. Felix Corwin was a two-time state individual singles champion, went on to play at the University of Minnesota and now competes on the ITF and ATP Challenger tours.


The youngest family members, Oscar Corwin and Sam Klein, have both played on the Brookfield East team for the past three years—years after they first started hitting tennis balls together when they were 3- and 4-years old, respectively. Timon Corwin and Tim Klein fed balls to the boys and took them out to Chenequa Country Club to hit red balls with their former coach and great friend, Dave Saxe. Their friendships continued to flourish with tennis as the anchor. 

Left to right: Timon Corwin, Oscar Corwin, Sam Klein and Tim Klein. Photo courtesy of the Corwin and Klein families.

Over the years, the boys became outstanding young players who competed all over the state and the Midwest, and even played each other in the 2023 Wisconsin State Individual Tournament semifinals. Forty-one years after their fathers faced off at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison, Oscar Corwin and Sam Klein were playing for a berth in the final. Like his father before him, Oscar Corwin won the match, and the No. 1 seed went on to clinch the state title. Even though Sam Klein is an incoming college freshman, the duo just played in a national Junior Team Tennis tournament and took first place with their Wisconsin Cheeseheads team.


The pair learned how to be competitive on the court and great friends off the court, and the parents mastered how to do the same as spectators. Timon Corwin and Tim Klein agree that tennis parents can learn to support their own child when they are playing a good friend without cheering against the other—they are friends and teammates first, and rivals second.

Photo courtesy of the Corwin and Klein families.

These lessons, along with playing for a team and making lifelong friends is what makes high school tennis such a great sport. Players can compete in individual matches in singles and doubles, but there is always someone else to cheer for and who will cheer for you.


Timon Corwin—now the general manager of the Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove, where Tim Klein has belonged since 1974—and Tim Klein still play tennis, along with pickleball, platform tennis and golf, even making an annual trip to Las Vegas to play a tournament with other men from their junior tennis days. Their spouses also play racquet sports together, and the families often play tennis when traveling together. 


“Tennis has been the foundation for all racquet sports for our families to enjoy and to spend time together,” Tim Klein said.

His best friend echoed the sentiment, saying “it’s a friendship that is anchored through tennis.”


Families like the Corwins and Kleins are great examples of friends on and off the court, and it goes to show how tennis is truly a lifetime sport that fosters lifelong friendships.

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