St. Mary’s goes “Guarani” 20 years later

In 1987, Paraguayan tennis fans stormed the court after their team upset the United States in Davis Cup competition. The television images from Asuncion showed a frenzy and eurphoria one would expect to see at a soccer match or maybe a basketball game. But tennis?
Though the Bay Shore Athletic League boys tennis playoffs aren’t exactly the Davis Cup, the reaction of the St. Mary’s High School team at the end of the championship doubles match on April 25 at Alameda’s Harbor Bay Club brought those 20-year-old scenes to mind.
You see, the Panthers’ top-seeded doubles team of Scott Leong and Ed Califano had just secured the league title by beating Piedmont’s second-seeded Elliot Marks and P.D. Castagnozzi-Bush. Within seconds, St. Mary’s teammates threw open the gate and rushed the court to greet, congratulate and celebrate with Leong and Califano. High-fives, hollers and hugs were the order of the day for the Panthers, a joyful deviation from the typically staid world of tennis.
Tennis is a fine sport. But it has conventions most unusual to someone more accustomed to the more typical “stadium” sports (e.g., football, baseball, soccer, basketball, even volleyball) where fans react during the run of play with no fear of cold stares or angry retorts for the slightest blink of an eye or move of a muscle. The Panthers’ reaction, like that in Asuncion two decades ago, was a reminder of what tennis can be – – a sport to cherish, cheer and enjoy to the fullest.