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Phebus Olson returns to court

Tennis

Former CdM and UCLA tennis standout is coming back to the sport and teaching at The Edge Academy.

January 19, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Keri Phebus Olson, a former Corona del Mar High tennis player, leads a clinic at Edge Tennis Academy in Newport Beach on Saturday. She won two CIF Individual singles titles in her two years (1988 and '89) at CdM.
Keri Phebus Olson, a former Corona del Mar High tennis… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Keri Phebus Olson is returning to the sport she loves.

It could be seen as just like old times, the way Phebus Olson swung the racquet at The Tennis Club Newport Beach on Saturday. Wearing a black and yellow tennis outfit and sunglasses, Keri Phebus Olson hit with aspiring youth tennis players at the introduction day for The Edge Tennis Academy.

Phebus Olson, considered the best female junior tennis player to come out of the Newport-Mesa community, is coming back to tennis a teacher for the academy.

And, when one gets into the accolades that she earned as a standout player at Corona del Mar High and UCLA, it is clear why The Edge Academy director John Craig is more than happy to have her on board.

"From a coaching perspective, it rounds out our coaching," Craig said. "I think it's great to have a highly accomplished player who's well-known. She knows what it takes to get to a high level of tennis, but she also has a great personalty. It's going to offer that female touch in our program, and I think it's going to be valuable for us."

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Phebus Olson, now 38, is a two-time CIF Individuals singles champion. She captured the two titles for CdM in 1988 and '89, as a freshman and sophomore, helping CdM win the CIF 4-A team title each year as well. At one time, Phebus Olson was the nation's top-ranked junior in girls' 12s, 14s and 16s, and No. 2 in the 18s.

She then went on to a sparkling career at UCLA, where she reached the NCAA Division I singles final as a sophomore in 1994, before capturing national championships in both singles and doubles (with teammate Susie Starrett) the following year. Phebus Olson, a four-time All-American, is the most decorated player in the history of UCLA women's tennis. In 2007, she became the first Bruins women's tennis player inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.

A pro career of more than two years followed her time at UCLA, before Phebus Olson retired from the tour. She became a school teacher for three years before becoming pregnant with her first child. She lives locally with her husband, Steve, and three children in the Port Streets.

They have become close friends with their neighbors the Musselmans, another athletic family whose daughters Alex (now at UCLA) and freshman Maddie have played for CdM girls' water polo. Keri, naturally, was excited when Alex committed to the Bruins.

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