Most elite tennis players grow up with a tennis racket in their hands. They start pounding balls before they can add and subtract.
Not Yucaipa’s Kendall Bolock. She didn’t pick up a racket until she was 10 and didn’t start playing seriously until 13. And yet here she is, the top player for the University of Redlands.
“It happened by accident,” said Bolock, a Redlands High graduate. “My sister (Savannah Bolock) and I woke up one day and decided to go to Community Park and hit the ball around. There was a tennis coach there named Tony Lumsden and he said, “Let me show you a few things.”
The rest is history. Soon she went on to star at Redlands High where she led the Terriers to their first section title. Now as a senior she is the No. 1 singles player and is on the No. 1 doubles team at the University of Redlands.
“I’m not from a tennis family so I was new to everything,” Bolock said. “I wanted to be active in a sport and my sister, who is a few years older than me, wanted to play too. We figured we could play together in high school.”
Savannah enrolled at Arrowhead Christian Academy and Kendall followed her there. But Kendall transferred to Redlands High after one year, which was a boon for the Terriers.
“Things just snowballed and it became my passion,” Bolock said. “Sean Comadena was the coach and he became not only a tennis coach, but a mentor who helped me figure out what I am as a person. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.”
Said Comadena, “She transferred in for her sophomore season and had to sit out for a while (due to transfer rules). It was killing her to watch and not be a part of things. But once she got in the lineup she made a huge difference. Her tenacity and work ethic aren’t something you see every day.”
The University of Redlands, as of last weekend, had played three matches. Bolock won all three of her singles matches and was 1-2 in doubles.
Clearly, she’s come a long way from that day at Community Park when she didn’t even know how to keep score.
“Tennis has been a great outlet for me,” Bolock said. “It’s taught me a lot of life lessons and I’ve learned all about grit and determination and how hard work pays off.”
Bolock has had such a positive experience that she would like to teach English and become a tennis coach.
Though she lives now on campus, Bolock’s parents, Paul and Julie, still reside in Yucaipa.
The exciting news for the whole family is that Kendall got engaged to Jacob Reyes in August and the nuptials await.
The couple has known each other since eighth grade.
“I truly believe that without Jacob I would not be the same person I am today,” Bolock said. “I am beyond blessed to spend the rest of my life with him by my side.”