Brett Hansen-Dent, Millennium Hall of Fame

Richard Dunn

Having come up from this end before, Brett Hansen-Dent knows all

about the trials and tribulations of playing the challenger circuit in

men's professional tennis.

These days, though, he's older and wiser, and has more healed muscles

and joints than his CIF Southern Section singles championship form could

have ever imagined over a decade ago.

But the former Newport Harbor High sensation hopes that this time, his

third tour of pro tennis duty, will be the charm.

"Oh, yeah, I'm serious (about another comeback). You have to be these

days," Hansen-Dent said. "I was serious before, but I was kind of a young

guy and didn't know too much. Then, I played with a bad leg. You don't

realize how important it is to be in shape to track down all the balls,

if you can even get to the balls."

Following his 1990 CIF singles title for Newport Harbor under Coach

Charlie Bleiker, Hansen-Dent played at UCI for two years and then briefly

joined the globe-trotting satellite and challenger circuits in 1993.

But Hansen-Dent, ranked No. 1 in 1990 in the boys 18s in Southern

California, got a rude awakening. His expenses added up to more than his

winnings, but Hansen-Dent was able to get his NCAA eligibility back and

played for USC in 1994 and '95, earning All-American honors in doubles

both years and in singles in '95.

After college, Hansen-Dent tried the challenger tour (the minor

leagues of the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour) again.

In 1995, Hansen-Dent was recruited by his former UCI coach, Greg

Patton, to play World TeamTennis for the Idaho Sneakers. Hansen-Dent

cashed in with an award-winning summer, winning the men's singles

championship to highlight his pro career.

In '96, Hansen-Dent reached the doubles finals of a Grand Prix in

Coral Springs, Fla., losing to Australia's Mark Woodforde and Todd

Woodbridge.

But, constantly hampered by injuries, he underwent knee surgery in

1997 and lasted about 1 1/2 years in his second stint on the challenger

circuit.

He started teaching, working as a pro in La Jolla and living in San

Diego with his mother, Bettyann, a former top-10 player on the women's

tour.

After taking about two years off, Hansen-Dent returned to the rigors

of pro tennis a third time in 2000. "Now I'm back and starting all over

again," said Hansen-Dent, happy to be healthy and playing again.

"Teaching slows you down a little. It helps with your skills, but

you're just going through the motions. It doesn't help (your game)."

Hansen-Dent, ranked 1,298th in the world at the time, and partner

Chris Tontz of the U.S. enjoyed some success in June at an ATP Tour

challenger in Cozumel, Mexico, "a little island near Cancun," he said.

Hansen-Dent, 28, advanced to the finals at Cozumel, after winning

three matches in the 32-team draw.

In another tournament, Hansen-Dent won a round in singles, then in

July played doubles with his stepbrother, Taylor Dent, at the

Mercedes-Benz Classic in Los Angeles. In the Round of 16, they defeated

the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, in three sets, before losing in the

quarterfinals to Scott Humphries and Jan-Michael Gambill.

Hansen-Dent, a crafty, 6-foot, 170-pound right-hander, won another

singles round this year when he defeated Italy's Mose Navarra in the GHI

Bronx Tennis Classic at Crotona Park.

'This is only my fourth tournament this year, so I have a lot of

catching up to do after not playing for such a long time," said

Hansen-Dent, who has earned nearly $60,000 in prize money in his career.

Born in Newport Beach, Hansen-Dent grew up playing many sports. His

mother married Phil Dent, the former Australian Davis Cup player, when he

was about 8.

The family moved to Australia when he was 10, but then moved back to

Newport four years later, when Phil Dent found it difficult to find work

as a teaching pro in his native land. The Aussies played tennis on public

courts and would use any means necessary (i.e. old wooden rackets) to

play. There were no private clubs and few citizens willing to pay for

lessons.

But, while in Sydney, Hansen-Dent learned to play cricket and rugby,

and he started playing more tennis.

When the family moved back to Newport, Hansen-Dent was thrilled. Able

to reunite with his friends, he also figured a future in tennis would be

brighter in the U.S.

"I wasn't really the best tennis player, but I was good and could

compete with the best guys," said Hansen-Dent, who played four years at

Newport Harbor, climaxed by his CIF singles title as a senior, when he

beat Ari Nathan of Brentwood, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, in the CIF finals.

(Taylor Dent would capture the family's second CIF singles title in

1996 as a Corona del Mar High freshman.)

Hansen-Dent joined Bob Ogle, the 1971 CIF singles champion, as the

only players from Harbor to win the section's biggest tennis title.

Hansen-Dent, who is single and trains out of Newport Beach Tennis Club

when he's in town, isn't picky about where he plays.

"I'll play anywhere, it doesn't matter -- wherever there are lines on

the court," said Hansen-Dent, who added that some of his worst playing

experiences came in Mexico, where some courts made the Newport Harbor

High courts look like a Grand Slam surface.

Hansen-Dent, the cousin of women's beach volleyball superstar Misty

May, is the latest honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall of Fame.

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