There is a new “King of Swing” is California prep annals. Palisades Charter High School Coach Ernest “Bud” Kling ’69, M.S. ’72 (Life member), become the winningest high school tennis coach in state history with the Pali Dolphins Girls Tennis Team’s victory over Bishop Gorman (Nev.) in the third round of the Lightning Classic at Sage Hill HS in Newport Beach. Kling’s present winning percentage of over 90% is the present national standard for all tennis coaches with over 1000 victories. Kling’s 1251 career total number of victories puts him in the national top four. The top 3 are all from New Jersey, where almost twice as many matches are played each season.
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 that day when the Dolphins blanked Del Oro (Loomis, Calif.) 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.
Kling, history major as an undergrad who earned his master’s degree in kinesiology, started coaching at Pali High in 1977 as an assistant to the late Bud Ware before taking over the boys program when Ware stepped down prior to the city section playoffs in 1979.
Still going strong, Kling is the school’s longest-tenured coach, having led the boys to 37 league titles and 27 city titles (all in the top division) in 40 seasons and piloting 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 guided the girls to four straight section crowns and hopes to make it five in a row come November. The boys have won 11 straight championships. SKling has coached the boys team since 1979 and they won the national championship in 1979, 1980, 1997 and 2017.
While Kling’s 45 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 all-time state mark for wins in all sports (1,609) is held by water polo and swim coach Brent Bohlender from Modesto.
Kling has coached his fair share of great players over the years, including Scott Davis (the top-ranked junior player in the world in 1980), Howard Sands (Harvard), Chris Schoop (Cal), John Davis and Ben Goldberg (UCLA), Ilona Kordonskaya and Mugette Ahn (Washington), Danny Westerman (played at and now the men’s coach at the University of Wisconsin), Heather Willens (#1 at Stanford), Kelly Jones (ranked the world No. 1 men’s doubles player and he currently the head Men’s Tennis coach at Furman University) and Jake Sands (who won the CIF singles title at Ojai and is a sophomore on the men’s team at 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.
Kling and his wife Cheryl have two children, son Ryan and daughter Alex, both of whom played for him at Pali High. Alex was the clinching point in the CIF LA City Championship match.
Kling is an avid follower of all national and international sporting events, especially the Olympic Games. He is enjoys following college tennis, especially the UCLA Men’s team and the UCLA & Cal Women’s teams. He has attended 30 NCAA Tennis Championships and was on the Organizing Committee for the 1987 Men’s Championship. He is also master Olympic memorabilia collector and trader and, starting with Los Angeles in 1984, has been to 15 Olympiads .
“Over the length of my career I have had a lot of great kids. I’ve watched them grow up and I have been able to keep up with many of my past players on our own alumni page on Facebook. It’s a thrill to watch players work hard and improve. Since tennis is an individual sport, for many it is their first time being on a team. They learn a lot on how to work as a group and depend on each other,” Kling said. “I would also like to thank all of my assistant coaches, especially Ray Hugill, athletic administrators, my famil, and all the supportive parents for their assistance, encouragement, collaboration and cooperation.”