CIF Southern Section Division 5 champions in 2015, the strength of the girls’ tennis program reflects the long history of tennis here at Thacher. When Sherman Day’s brother, William, arrived on campus fresh out of Yale in late 1895, he led the men’s tennis team as runner-up in National Intercollegiate singles play and college doubles champion. Before long it was one of the most popular sports at school and throughout the Ojai Valley. In fact, William was the founder of the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the United States, the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, which to this day remains the largest amateur tennis tournament in the country.
Today, Thacher’s girls’ varsity team practices and plays on our ten well-maintained hard courts against the beautiful backdrop of the Ojai Valley. With a full JV and varsity schedule, the tennis program has something for the student just learning the sport as well as the experienced player looking to take her game to the college level. While students are focused on skill-building, rising to new challenges at every experience level, and supporting fellow players, they’re also committed to winning; they’ve qualified for the playoffs for the past eight years and most recently went to the CIF finals in 2014 before claiming the championship in 2015.
In addition to serving as Thacher’s athletic director, Pete teaches mathematics, advises freshman boys and is the varsity coach for the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams. In his 27 years as a teacher he has worked at the Webb Schools in Claremont, California, the Holderness School in New Hampshire, and Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Pete has also been a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association since 1986, having achieved the ranking of Elite Professional. He has been coaching high school tennis for 36 years. In 2007, he coached a state championship girls’ team in New Hampshire and led the Thacher boys’ team to the CIF championship in 2008. Most recently, he guided the Thacher girls’ varsity tennis team to consecutive CIF finals appearances in 2014 and 2015, winning the championship in 2015. In addition, he has led his teams to two state finals (2001 and 2014), coached a singles champion (2002) and doubles champion (1987). Moreover, in 2015, he was named the California High School tennis coach of the year by the USPTA. Pete lives with his wife, Ann Merlini, the Middle School dorm head, and his dog Maime. In his spare time he enjoys biking, boating, fly fishing, and his cabin on Lake Winnipesaukee.