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Southern California's Bier pulls double duty

David Bier
September 25, 2016 10:36 AM

By Arthur L. Mack, special to USTA.com

MOBILE, ALA. – David Bier was a very busy man at the USTA League National Championships held at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center.

Not only was Bier competing on the Southern California's 5.0 men's team, which plays out of Manhattan Beach, Calif., he was also coaching the Southern California women's 2.5 team as well.

“We played simultaneously, and during my match I was watching them,” Bier said with a smile. “That affected my result, because I wound up losing, except I can't use that as an excuse – I lost my previous two matches when they weren't playing, but I was more interested in them winning. That's how I make my paycheck, and when they win, they're happier and get more lessons out of it.”

Southern California's team has a mixture of players; the men's team has some players who are not members of the Manhattan Beach Country Club, while all of the women's 2.5 players are members of the club. Awhile back, Manhattan Beach did not have a 2.5 women's team, so Bier was called on to assemble one.

“The USTA Coordinator called me and said, 'We need a 2.5 women's team,'” he said. “All across the country, they had 2.5 (women's) teams, but in Southern California, they did not. I said, 'I've got some ladies that looked like 2.5s,' so we put a team together and did pretty well.”

How the 2.5 women made it to Mobile was a mixture of great play – and a little luck.

“We beat some of the teams in the local area and got to go to Sectionals,” said Bier. “When we got to Sectionals, we went 1-1. The team that won decided not to come to the great state of Alabama, so we were next up to go and we jumped on it.”

There are only five members of the women's team: Elizabeth Shelor, Colleen McCarthy, Davina Kent, Nahia Hussein, and Linda Buchanan. They all had busy schedules during match play in Mobile.

“Every match required five players, so they had to play every match,” Bier said. “It's been tough, because they played some [really good] teams, but they're hanging in there. They've had a rewarding experience, and though they haven't won a match yet, they said they wanted to do it again and come back next year. We're excited to be here. This is what the USTA is all about: being at the grass-roots level and building from the bottom up.”

Bier was a pretty good tennis player in his younger days. It's hard to believe, but he grew up with tennis greats such as Pete Sampras.

“We were members of the same tennis club (the Jack Kramer Tennis Club), along with Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport,” he said. “I competed nationally at the junior levels and played (in the USTA Boys’ Hard Court Championships) at Kalamazoo, the biggest tournament. I had wins over Michael Chang when he was 14 and I was 17. He wound up winning the French Open a year and a half later.”

Bier got a college scholarship to Long Beach State, but decided that after a year, he had enough of tennis.

“I played all the way through the juniors when I was 18, and I did so much tennis as a kid, three hours a day every day, and I didn't realize my dreams of reaching No. 1 status,” he said. “When I was 25, I joined the Army, spent three years in Germany and a year in Monterrey, Calif., learning Chinese. It was a great time and a great experience.”

After leaving the Army, however, the tennis bug bit Bier again.

“I first started out in public parks working for 20 bucks an hour in Orange County, then I got a job at the same time working at Manhattan Beach,” he said. “I would be working at Manhattan Beach and it would be 70 degrees and making $80 an hour, and then I would move to my other place, which would be the public park where it would be 90 degrees and making $30-$40 bucks an hour.”

Bier eventually settled on the Manhattan Beach job, and he has been thriving ever since, splitting time between playing and coaching. As a player, Bier had his best success in the Southern California sectionals, where he competed in the 35s. However, it's tough concentrating as a player because he's working seven days a week and raising three boys. Still, he said he wouldn’t trade his job for anything in the world.

“It's been beautiful,” he said. “I've been there for 11 years, and we have 10 other good pros and 1,800 members. We have some good clubs all over the place. We allow only club members on our USTA teams, but we have sent at least 10 USTA teams to Nationals. We have a very strong adult program.”