Tennis Is a Family Affair for the Schoops of Pacific Palisades

Times Staff Writer

Tennis is not the only occupation of the Schoop family of Pacific Palisades, but it certainly seems that way.

Ernie Sr. owns an electrical engineering company in Carson, and his sons, Ernie Jr. and Chris, will be college seniors in the fall--Ernie Jr., 24, at Linfield College in Oregon and Chris, 22, at Cal.

Only Mary Schoop, wife and mother, could be considered as being involved in tennis on a full-time basis. She has been a teaching professional at the Palisades Recreation Center courts for 18 years, and, with her husband's help, has run the tennis shop at the center for six years.

If Ernie Sr.'s principal concern is his engineering business and if his sons are devoting most of their time to getting college degrees, they still seem to find plenty of time for tennis.

Reached NAIA Quarters

Ernie Sr., 48, played No. 1 singles for the University of Arizona in the late 1950s. Ernie Jr. is the No. 1 singles player for Linfield and with partner Todd Irinaga advanced to the quarterfinals of last season's NAIA (National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics) tournament. Chris plays No. 2 singles for the Cal Bears. Both sons played tennis for perennial city champion Palisades High School.

Recently, both Ernies won championships in the 59th annual Los Angeles City Public Parks Tennis Championships, the son in men's open singles and the father in 45-and-older singles. Both will also compete in their respective divisions in the National Public Parks Tennis Championships, Aug. 11-16, in Bloomington, Minn.

Big Ernie has been to the nationals before and made quite an impression in 1982 at Cleveland by winning singles titles in the 35-and-older and 45-and-older divisions and pairing with Darlene Hard, one of the world's top players for many years, to win the 45-and-older mixed doubles championship.

Parks championships, whether local or national, are not as big as they used to be before tennis great and former Wimbledon champion Jack Kramer began promoting lucrative tournaments for professionals.

Used to Be Big

But when the game was played strictly by amateurs, public parks tournaments served as testing grounds and springboards to national tournaments at Forest Hills, N.Y., to the Davis Cup and to Wimbledon. Los Angeles city championships, for example, were won by Bobby Riggs in 1936-37, by Kramer in 1938 and 1940 and by Pancho Gonzalez in 1949.

"With the advent of a lot of other tournaments and professional tournaments, city-sponsored public parks championships lost some of their luster," said Ernie Schoop Sr.

Although competition isn't always tough in the opening rounds of the Los Angeles city tournament, he said, there is a high caliber of play in the semifinals and finals.

And there are no Saturday morning hackers in the national parks championships. Ernie Sr. figures the man he has to beat in Minnesota is Bob Perry, defending champion in the 45-and-older division, a former UCLA star and a teaching professional in La Jolla.

If he defeats Perry, who was a member of UCLA doubles teams that won NCAA titles in 1953-54, it would be a first for Schoop, who said that Perry has "beaten me every time." When asked how often that was, he said that it was only three, "but every time you lose it's like five times."

Can Beat His Brother

Schoop said he has had better luck against Perry's brother Norm, a UCLA All-American from 1959 through 1961 and now in the business of manufacturing nets and other tennis equipment. "I've beaten him three times."

Ernie Jr., who won the singles championship of the Northwest Conference for Linfield, said his chief competition will probably be Keith Simpson, a Cal State Northridge graduate who has been a national public parks doubles champion for the last four years, or Pasadena's Jeff Banwer, defending men's open champion who defeated Chris Schoop in last year's national parks finals at Vail, Colo.

Chris did not enter this year's Los Angeles tournament because he was recuperating from surgery to remove plantar's warts from the bottom of his feet. But he returned to help his father win a championship in a fathers-and-sons doubles tournament last July 4 in La Jolla.

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