Kling Is King

Bud Kling has coached Palisades High tennis for 40 years and passed Coronado’s Robbin Adair into first place on the state career wins list with No. 1,246 Saturday at the Sage Hill Tournament.
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Pali High Tennis Coach Breaks State Record for Career Victories

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

There is a new “King of Swing” in California prep annals. Bud Kling entered the CIF record book Saturday morning by becoming the winningest high school tennis coach in state history with the Palisades girls’ 6-0 victory over host Sage Hill in the third round of the Lightning Invitational in Newport Beach.

According to Cal-Hi Sports records it was Kling’s 1,246th win—one more than the career total accumulated by previous record holder Robbin Adair, who coached the Coronado boys for 40 seasons and the girls for 33 before retiring in 2007 with 1,222 dual match victories and 1,245 overall.

Kling added to his total later on Saturday when the Dolphins blanked Loomis Del Oro to win the two-day tournament. On Monday, Palisades shut out University in its Western League opener to give Kling 1,248 wins against only 134 losses—a .903 winning percentage.    

“I never thought I was going to reach the 1,000-win milestone, much less another 200 or so after that,” said Kling, who started coaching at Pali High in 1977 as an assistant to Bud Ware before taking over the boys program when Ware stepped down prior to the City Section playoffs in 1979. “I’ve had a lot of great kids, I’ve watched them grow up and we have our own alumni page on Facebook. It’s a thrill to watch players improve. Since tennis is an individual sport, for many it’s their first time being on a team. A little of my enjoyment has been diminished by cuts the school has made that have caused some coaches to feel underappreciated.”

Still going strong at age 72, Kling is the school’s longest-tenured coach, having piloted the boys to 37 league titles and 27 City titles (all in the top division) in 40 seasons and leading the girls to 26 league titles and 19 City championships in 28 seasons. He coached the girls for all but one season from 1984-2007 before stepping down. Since returning in 2015 he has led the girls to four straight section titles and hopes to make it five in a row in November. The boys have won 11 straight.

While Kling’s 46 CIF titles are the gold standard in the City they are not the state record—that belongs to Larry Rogers, who coached swimming and water polo at Monta Vista and Bellarmine Prep for almost 50 years. The state mark for wins in all sports (1,666) is held by water polo/swim coach Brent Bohlender of Modesto.   

Kling has coached many talented players over the years like Scott Davis (the top-ranked junior player in the world in 1980), Danny Westerman (now the men’s coach at the University of Wisconsin) and Jake Sands (who won the CIF singles title at Ojai and now plays for USC). His 2017 boys squad won the National High School Tennis All-American Championship. In April of that year Kling was inducted into the City Hall of Fame.

Bud and his wife Cheryl reside in the El Medio Heights area and have been married almost 37 years. Both of their children—son Ryan and daughter Alex—played for him at Pali High. An avid follower of international sporting events, especially the Olympic Games, he is a master pin collector and trader and starting with Los Angeles in 1984 he has attended 15 Olympiads.