Racquet Club’s Bruce Nagel Talks Tennis, Tournaments, Surf

Running Hawaii’s premier tennis tournament – the Blue Moon Men’s Night Doubles – makes for a busy summer for Kailua Racquet Club general manager Bruce Nagel.

As the tournament progresses toward Saturday night’s finale, Nagel won’t be without his normal responsibilities this week. But with everything in place, he’ll be able to enjoy the event himself – much as the multitudes do who annually mark the tournament in their own calendars as a must-see event.

“The two weeks before the tournament are actually the busiest time,” admitted Nagel, who has been with the club for 22 years.

Under Nagel’s guidance, the tournament has continued to flourish through the years, and complacency never set in when it came to making the 2012 version fan-friendly. Entertainment, door prizes and fine food complement the impressive field of players. Admission is free, and matches start at 6 every night (except the Thursday make-up day).

Nagel recently took some time out to visit with MidWeek‘s Windward Islander.

What is your earliest sports-related memory? I remember my dad, who was a football coach (at the University of Iowa), telling me to quit football. I was in fifth grade, and I’d been practicing for about a week, and he didn’t even know I’d been going to practice until he saw some of my equipment. He said, ‘You don’t want to do that, you’re too small … you’re better suited to tennis.’ That was way too insightful.

Who has had the biggest impact on your life? My mom (Shirley). She was just very gracious, and that part of her always served as an inspiration to me. She also was a great host, which is kind of what my job is here. We look at the tournament as if we are hosting a big party.

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of being part of Kailua Racquet Club through all these years? Getting to know all of the members.

What is most challenging about planning the tournament? To be able to work with our more than 100 volunteers. We try to make sure we don’t offend anyone or make them mad.

What’s the most memorable match you’ve witnessed at the tournament? The one that sticks out involved a team of brothers, Skip and Buzz Strode. They were in the finals many years ago, and it was a fifth-set tie-breaker. Both teams were two points away from winning the match. Every point was critical. On one point, Buzz ran up to get a short shot and just hit it over, and the other team played it. They thought it may have been a double-bounce and said so. Buzz thought about it and said, ‘I think you are right.’ A double-bounce is the call of the person who hit it, and it made the difference in the match. It was impressive.

What’s your favorite dish prepared by club Chef Dave Kaminski? Eggplant Parmesan. He also makes an amazing hamburger.

When you have free time away from tennis, how do you spend it? I enjoy surfing and spending time with my wife (Beverly). I try to get out surfing often in the early morning.

What film could you watch over and over? Being There or The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What one thing could-n’t you live without? Water or air.

Who is your favorite musical artist? Keb Mo.

What is your favorite spot on the island? Diamond Head or the North Shore, because I like to surf.

You’re stuck on an island and can have only one food. What would it be? Papayas.