Game, Set Match: Greenwald!

Back in the day, Jeff Greenwald was quite a tennis player.

Jeff Greenwald, in his Staples days.

In 1984 — playing #1 for Staples High School — he won a rare triple crown: the FCIAC and state LL (largest schools) singles championships, and the team’s 3rd consecutive state title.

As life moved on, Greenwald continued to compete. Seventeen years later, in 2001 — now a clinical and sports psychologist in northern California — he won the US 35-and-over national singles and doubles championships. He was ranked #1 in the world International Tennis Federation men’s 35 category, for both singles and doubles.

He played #1 singles for the US in the Italia Cup. The team made it to the finals, grieving at night over the 9/11 attack, and pounding balls by day.

Another 16 years went by. Last month, Greenwald – now 51 — entered the national 40s hard court tournament. Most of the 64 competitors were just 40, or a year or two older.

He’d won that tournament for the first time in 2009 — and again in 2016. No one had ever been champion of a division a decade younger.

Jeff Greenwald

Seeded #3 this year, he reached the finals. His opponent — ranked #1 — was a 3-time 40s winner.

Greenwald flew his son Will — 9 years old, and an avid tennis player himself — to La Jolla for the finals. The stands were filled.

Greenwald lost the first set, 6-3. He won the second, 7-5.

Suddenly — at match point in the final set — the umpire called a “ball abuse” penalty on his opponent.

The radio announcer had never heard of that situation before. Neither he nor Greenwald saw his opponent’s infraction. But he’d smashed a ball out of the court, onto another court in play, in frustration over losing the prior point.

Just as suddenly, Greenwald told the umpire he did not want to win that way.

He declined to accept the penalty.

Greenwald went to the line again. He unleashed an aggressive shot to his foe’s backhand. It was not returned.

For the 2nd time in minutes, Greenwald won the national championship.

“We battled for over 2 hours,” the victor told a reporter. “There was no way I wanted to win that way. It wasn’t even a choice for me.”

He called it “the most satisfying tournament of my career.”

And then he waved his son over, to join him for the trophy celebration.

Jeff Greenwald and his son Will, happy together.

(Jeff Greenwald is the author of The Best Tennis of Your Life, and several instructional videos. He conducts corporate seminars on stress management, gives motivational speeches, and helps promising young athletes enhance their mental skills. His website is

6 responses to “Game, Set Match: Greenwald!

  1. Great Story to start off my day…as always, thanks for sharing!

  2. Ann Marie Flynn-USA ‘56 Olympic Team

    Jeff is a great champion off the court and on the court. He gives back to the sport he loves so much. Congratulations Jeff.

  3. Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

    Congratulations, Perfect report to start the day with.

  4. Kool Story! 06880 Rocks!!!

  5. Thank you Dan- Jeff is, and always has been a class act.

  6. Awesome piece