|A force: John Lamble ’14. Photo by Denis Concordel
Perhaps nobody appreciates how far Santa Clara tennis has come better than Mike Lamble ’78. In the mid-’70s, Lamble was the men’s No. 1 player, but that meant little against major programs like Stanford, which could wipe the Broncos off the court without even troubling their best players.
A generation later, it’s a different picture. Lamble watched with glee last year as the men rallied to a school-record 22 wins to qualify for their first NCAA tournament. They then wasted no time showing they were there to do more than just make an appearance, knocking off No. 19 Texas. They fell to host Stanford in the next round, but not before defeating the Cardinal’s top doubles team and singles player, the kind of victories that were unfathomable in Lamble’s student days.
“It’s just night and day compared to when I played,” says Lamble, an Australian native who arrived at Santa Clara after a school booster spotted him teaching tennis in Texas. Today, he says, “If I were playing my best tennis, I might not be able to make the team.”
Lamble has good reason for paying close attention to Bronco tennis in all its incarnations. His son, John ’14, is a rising star who has assumed the No. 1 single position his father once held and is helping set a raft of new highs for the program. After winning all four of his postseason matches in singles and doubles last year, John finished his sophomore year as the 77th ranked singles player in the nation, a new best for SCU. He opened his junior year at No. 65 in the nation, and No. 2 in the Northwest.
Lamble’s daughter, Kelly ’13, meanwhile, is the senior co-captain of the women’s team, which has recorded its first national rankings during her tenure. She has twice received WCC honorable mention for her play on the court and is even more formidable in the classroom. The recipient of a Provost Scholarship for academic prowess, in addition to an athletic scholarship, Kelly earned WCC All-Academic Team honors last season after pulling down a 3.85 GPA while pursuing dual degrees in finance and psychobiology.
RECORDS BROKEN LEFT AND RIGHT
Growing up tennis was a family affair. Not only did the siblings have their father to look up to, but their mother, Geri M.S. ’96, was a highly regarded amateur, and the one who took on the logistical burdens of raising rising tennis players. When Kelly and her brother were young, the whole family would play together, her father acting as their first coach. “I can’t even imagine the number of balls he hit with us,” Kelly says. “We would hit for hours.”
Family legacy, though, didn’t count for much in either sibling’s decision to attend Santa Clara. John, a blue-chip recruit whose booming backhand and relentless hustle made him a hot commodity coming out of nearby Saratoga High School, says he saw the opportunity to make his mark on a program obviously taking flight under Head Coach Derek Mills. In 2010, the men finished 53rd in the nation, itself a noticeable accomplishment. In 2012 they finished 33rd. Like his sister, he says he saw a chance to be part of a change.
“It was a big thing for me to go to a school where I could do something that no one had done before as a team and as an individual,” John Lamble says. “Records are being broken left and right. It’s great to be a part of.”