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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Brennan fixture at City Tennis Tournament

The old adage ‘two are better than one’ has a different meaning for Kent Brennan.

The longtime coach and tennis player could say two forehands are better than one – and he would know.

Brennan, director of the City Tennis Tournament for 39 years, switches from left to right as needed when rallying with friend Lorie Leach in a two-hour session Wednesday morning at Hart Field.

“You ever seen anyone that can hit with two forehands?” he asks, continuing to rally with Leach.

No, not really.

Luke Jensen did in the pros. Other than that, it’s extremely rare.

Brennan takes a couple more strokes before calling Leach into the net. The practice is over, and he feels she is ready for the tournament, which begins today and runs through Sunday at the Spokane Racquet Club.

Watching Brennan on the court, it’s easy to see there’s no shortage of spring in his 75-year-old steps, and though he doesn’t play anymore in the 40-something player tournament that he runs, his memories from the annual event over the years have filled him for a lifetime.

His fondest are from the days of playing with close friend and local legend Les Patten, who died last year.

“You could move a herd of elephants across the court and it wouldn’t bother him,” Brennan said of Patten. “He was the most focused player I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t the best, but he was the most focused.”

Patten won the tournament 14 consecutive years (1947-1960) – a record no one has come close to matching in the history of the tournament, which dates back to 1911. The men’s singles champion earns a spot on the Patten Cup, which Brennan is especially proud of. The Cup has been a fixture in the tournament since 1960, the year Patten retired.

Past champions include pro Jan-Michael Gambill, Mead High School boys tennis coach Bill Wagstaff, and Community Colleges of Spokane tennis coach Wally Heidenson.

Brennan, a three-time champion, says it is the rich history of the tournament that makes it so special.

“There are an awful lot of good players that want their name on that cup,” said Brennan, adding that he already knows whose name is going on this year.

“Bryce Cooper, hands down,” asserts Brennan.

Cooper, a former Washington State 4A champion who spent his collegiate career at Gonzaga, is a lock according to the self-proclaimed tennis historian.

“I don’t make bold predictions like that very often, but he’ll win this tournament.”

And if anyone should be allowed to make so bold a statement, it’s Brennan.

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