Tennis has brought great joy to the life of teaching pro Carrie Zarraonandia, including the recent news that she’d been named to the 2011 class of the .
But there’s a bit of sadness, too, something the former standout player and Redwood High championship coach wishes she could remedy.
“My favorite tennis memory is waking up at 6 in the morning and playing tennis with my brother Mike at Boyd Park,” the San Rafael native recalled recently. “It was a tiny little court right down the street from where I lived. A single court with fences five or six feet from each line. If you served it wide, it hit the fence.
“If I had the time, I’d do some fundraising and get Boyd Park resurfaced,” she said.
If all it took were a few dollars from each of today’s San Rafael High students to fund the project, it would be well worth skipping that day’s stop at Starbucks in order to reward an athlete whose athletic prowess as a Bulldog helped land her the prestigious Hall of Fame honor.
But don’t look for all of Zarraonandia’s achievements in the San Rafael record books under “G” for Girls Tennis. That’s because perhaps her greatest claim to Bulldogs fame was as the No. 3 player on the boys’ Marin County Athletic League co-championship team in 1976.
“For some reason, they let the girls choose if they wanted to go on the boys’ or the girls’ team,” the 53-year-old said of her senior season at San Rafael. “I chose to play with the boys. Only two other girls in the county played for the boys’ team that year."
Zarraonandia, whose many achievements include being named Most Valuable Girl Athlete at , returned to the female circuit for her collegiate career, helping College of Marin claim two state titles and U.C. Davis capture a pair of Division III national championships. She earned All-American honors as an Aggie.
Wait, there’s more. Zarraonandia went on to coach at and then at Redwood, where she led the Giants to six MCAL boys titles from 1993-2004, while at the same time teaming with her sister Anne, a 2005 Marin High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee, to win three age-group national doubles championships.
“My first call was to Anne,” Zarraonandia said of getting word of her 2011 enshrinement, which will take place Nov. 5 at the in San Rafael. “I said, ‘Hey, Anne, they didn’t forget about me!’ It was one of the better surprises I’ve ever gotten.”
Now, she's "giving back to the sport" she says, noting that she’s given instruction at a variety of clubs in Marin and now works at both the Rafael Racquet Club and the Scott Valley Swim and Tennis Club in Mill Valley. “I see so many of these girls who really have talent. It’s OK for them to be jocks. It’s wonderful to see."
And if it were to happen at Boyd Park, that would surely be a dream come true.