In honor of Wimbledon:

Ken Whitmer, the now-retired Redlands East Valley math teacher/former tennis coach still an assistant at his alma mater University of Redlands, told me this story:

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time when Dick Borhnstedt and his brother, Ron, showed up at the tennis courts here.”

“Here” was at the U of R courts, longtime home turf of legendary Bulldog coach Jim Verdieck. The Borhnstedts were a tennis-playing brother combination from Redlands High (1960s). One, Ron, played collegiately at UCLA. The other, Dick, chose USC.

“They had a small bucket of balls,” said Whitmer, noting their presence at the U of R one day. Only one of those balls was needed. “They just started hitting to each other. No serves. They weren’t trying to win points. They just kept hitting the ball back and forth to each other. It must’ve been 20 minutes. Every ball was in(side the lines). Neither one broke the other.”

It was, said Whitmer, “incredible to watch.”

Those guys put on a hitting clinic. Anyone watching must’ve been treated to something special. It was probably like watching a great singer rehearse.

Whitmer, himself an NCAA Division III All-American doubles player, is part of that lengthy heritage of tennis throughout Redlands.

Guys like Whitmer have plenty of stories about local tennis. The Bohrnstedt Bros. are a nice place to start.

Dick Borhnstedt reached third round play at Wimbledon twice — in doubles — in 1973 (Walter Brown, partner) and 1977 (Mike Machette). In singles, he won his opening round in 1977.

Ron Borhnstedt’s biggest pro win came against Jimmy Connors at the Charlie Farrell Invitational in Palm Springs. 

Both had a little bit of a run at Redlands High in the mid-60s.

Ron was a CIF doubles champ with Doug Verdieck, another tennis legend, back in 1964. He lost to Tom Leonard in the 1965 singles finals.

Dick won back-to-back singles titles in 1966-67.

Whitmer spoke of the Borhnstedt Bros. the way Dodger fans might speak of Sandy Koufax, or 49ers’ fans would discuss Joe Montana, or Chicago Bulls’ fans of Michael Jordan.

Man, would I love to interview those Bohrnstedt guys. They’re coaching college. Out of state. I’ll get them.

* * *

Lots of checking taking place on the USA women’s roster that just took on the world in pursuit of the Cup championship in France. The checking had to do with anyone from Redlands that might’ve played with or against anyone on that national team.

Or, for that matter, with players from other nations. Often times, international players come to the USA to play collegiately. Found nothing.

Check out the résumés of those USA players — incredible. They’ve played everywhere. Colleges. Overseas. USA clubs. Pro leagues.

Honestly, the closest thing Redlands has had to a World Cup player was Heather Aldama, a Redlands-Santa Clara-WUSA player who wore some international caps overseas — but didn’t play in the big game. She played with some of those 1990s World Cup heroes, though.

Aldama, a 4-time All-CIF player at Redlands, probably still holds all the Lady Terrier scoring records.

* * * ­

Incidentally, some sharp soccer minds are calling the women’s ECNL — Elite Clubs National League. There’s a battle brewing here. It’s been brewing since, I guess, December 2016 when word surfaced

A couple years back the U.S. Soccer Association opened up Development Academy (DA) play for female players. It’s been part of the male soccer environment for a few decades.

The U.S. Soccer DA has called itself the best way to players making their way to a national team — not to mention top youth clubs and colleges.

The ECNL, which could claim the lion’s share of Team USA’s current success at the World Cup, is competitive with DA.

Right now, you’d have to say there’s really no competition. ECNL is a proven quantity.

Travel teams not affiliated with ECNL programs are just higher-level recreation teams. ECNL-based players are getting better collegiate options.

We’re waiting on the DA program to develop more fully.