Game, set, match: Huntington Beach’s Art Hernandez wins another tennis world championship

It’s the kind of thing that gives Huntington Beach resident Art Hernandez goosebumps.

Hernandez, 56, has been playing tennis at a high level for a long time. But representing his country di lui brings him an even greater honor.

“I think there’s nothing more exciting than hearing, ‘Advantage, United States,'” he said.

Hernandez did more than just compete in the International Tennis Federation men’s 55-and-over world team championships earlier this month in Boca Raton, Fla.

He and Team USA dominated.

Hernandez was team captain and one of four players on the United States squad, which came away with the Austria Cup on May 6 after defeating Italy in the title match.

Art Hernandez, the team captain, helped Team USA defeat Great Britain, Argentina, Australia, Germany and Italy for the title.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Team USA – which also featured Andy Stoner of Arizona and Jeff Chambers and Oren Motevassel, both of Florida – went a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, which featured two singles sets and one doubles set per match. The United States also beat Great Britain and Argentina in pool play, Australia in the quarterfinals and Germany in the semifinals of the 25-country tournament.

Hernandez won his second world championship. The doubles specialist was also on the 2014 team that won the men’s 45s title, as was Motevassel.

“There’s a great opening ceremony,” Hernandez said. “When you walk in there with the other countries, it is such a high. The pride of being an American and representing your country, I think it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. And winning it twice is just something I’m so proud of. “

Hernandez, who was selected by the United States Tennis Assn. for the tournament based on his performance di lui last year, continues to excel in the sport. He said he has won 20 United States Tennis Assn. gold balls, which signify a national championship in a gender and age division.

Nineteen of the 20 have come in doubles, and many of those were won with his good friends Neel Grover of Laguna Beach and Carsten Hoffmann of Newport Beach.

“I think one of the coolest things I’m proud of, I’ve won a gold ball in every age category from 25 up to 50s,” Hernandez said. “I haven’t won 55s yet because I haven’t played any 55s tournaments… but in six age groups I’ve won a gold ball.”

Hernandez, Grover and Hoffmann all played tennis together at UC Irvine and have forged lifelong friendships.

Art Hernandez hits a serve at the Huntington Club in Huntington Beach.

Art Hernandez hits a serve at the Huntington Club in Huntington Beach.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A week after Hernandez won the world championship in Florida, he went to see Paul McCartney in concert with Hoffmann at SoFi Stadium.

“Art is such a good guy and such a hard competitor,” Hoffmann said. “It’s thrilling to see him win worlds twice… We’ve been playing senior and open events together for the last 30 years. It is really special. It’s one of the things that brings a lot of meaning to my life. The way that the tennis bleeds into friendships and experiences, it’s one of my great privileges in life to have known Art for this long. “

Hernandez feels the same way. As he gets older, he has stayed in good shape, typically playing tennis two to three times a week.

Being a dad also continues to reward him. His daughter Katie is set to graduate from the University of Washington this year, while his son di lui, Matt, will graduate from Mater Dei High and is headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Ultimately, tennis has remained an extremely rewarding pursuit.

“The thing about this is that we have day jobs,” Hernandez said. “This is our passion, tennis… but Jeff is an attorney, Oren and Andy teach tennis and I’m a medical device sales leader. We’ve got day jobs, but this is something that we love doing, and obviously representing your country is such an honor. “

Huntington Beach resident Art Hernandez has won 20 United States Tennis Assn.  gold balls.

Huntington Beach resident Art Hernandez has won 20 United States Tennis Assn. gold balls.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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