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It's All Relative for Worthingtons at Rio Mesa High


The family that plays together, stays together?

The Worthingtons of Rio Mesa High are proof.

Junior Chris Worthington plays on the Rio Mesa boys' tennis team, sophomore Shannon Worthington is on the Spartans' girls' team, and their father, Steve Worthington, coaches both squads.

"We all go there, every day," jokes Steve, who has coached both teams since the 1992-93 school year. "I'm going to get out of here someday."

He is in his second tenure with the girls' team, which he coached from 1980-84.

Between the two stints, he spent time with his family.

He still does.

"I grew up with tennis," Shannon Worthington said. "My dad taught us to play, and I like spending time with him."

Shannon, who played doubles last season but has been at No. 1 or No. 2 singles this year, posted a 29-3 record in sets during the recently completed regular season.

Despite that effort, and a 17-0 record in sets by top player Tiffany Brymer since her transfer to Rio Mesa last month, the Spartans (9-9, 4-5 in league play) finished third behind Camarillo and Channel Islands in the Pacific View League.

The Spartans will learn Monday if they will earn a wild-card berth in the Southern Section playoffs.

Chris Worthington and Derek Goldie went 32-3 at No. 1 doubles for the Spartans last spring.

"Tennis is a big part of our lives," Chris said. "That's mostly what we do. School's the main thing, and then tennis. When we talk, it's usually about tennis, and I practice every day."

Watching all the while is Steve, willing to get in the kids' faces as a coach but otherwise trying to stay out of their way.

"It's a very difficult balance," Steve said. "It's an awkward situation, because you're their coach and their dad. But whatever I do, either way, my goal has been to do it with the respect of a coach and the love of a father."

Once, during Chris's freshman year, the coach pulled his son off the court in the middle of a set against Ventura when Chris, an emotional player, became enraged over line calls and lost his composure.

Rio Mesa wound up losing a close match and Chris learned his lesson.

"It never happened again," Steve said. "We had just discussed maintaining decorum on the court, and he didn't do it. But he got the message. I know he has felt there are times where I'm harsher with him than with the other players and that's probably true. But it's all part of the relationship."

Chris understands that, and like Shannon, said he doesn't mind having his father as his coach.

"Overall, it's a good relationship," Chris said. "He gives me my space. Sometimes, he's the coach and so we'll just leave it at that."

Steve will be sad when his children's high school years end.

"I truly look forward to being with the kids and my teams," he said. "I'm very blessed because I know there's going to be a time when they won't be there. Hopefully as we grow older, we'll really appreciate this time."


Tom Gullikson, captain of the United States Davis Cup, and Eliot Teltscher, U.S. Tennis Assn. national team coach, will be on hand with 10 of the top junior players from the region when the Gene Jung Memorial Team Challenge takes place Saturday and Nov. 15 at the Claremont Club in Claremont.

Players from the area expected to participate include Philip Sheng of Thousand Oaks, and Travis Rettenmaier and Quinn Borchard, both of Camarillo, in the boys' 16s, Robert Yim of Glendale and Stephen Amritraj and Lester Cook IV, both of Calabasas, in the boys' 14s.

Girls' 16 players participating are Maureen Diaz of Glendale, Jieun Jacobs of Valencia and Brooke Borisoff of Agoura Hills. Erica Sauer of Somis will be among the girls' 14 players.


Brian Campbell of Encino was inducted Saturday into the Truman State University athletic Hall of Fame.

Campbell, who played for the Bulldogs from 1981-83 when the school was known as Northeast Missouri State, was seventh in NCAA Division II national rankings for doubles during his senior season.

He posted a 24-2 record that season, 24-4 as a junior and earned Division II All-American honors twice.


The Top 5

Rankings of girls' tennis teams in the region


RK LW School (League) 1 1 Westlake (Marmonte) 2 2 Simi Valley (Marmonte) 3 3 Harvard-Westlake(Mission) 4 4 Calabasas (Frontier) 5 5 Camarillo (Pacific View)


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