The age of specialization in youth sports is likely older than some think.
Jonathan Stark wrestled with focusing on tennis over other pursuits — notably basketball — when he was a schoolboy wunderkind in Medford in the late 1980s.
In fact, against the advice of the U.S. Tennis Association and others in the field, he had the audacity to put his racket aside for a several months and play high school basketball during his senior year at South Medford High.
“Some people probably would say, at the level I was playing, that’s a crazy break,” said the 47-year-old Stark, who will be the keynote speaker at the fifth-annual Southern Oregon Sports Commission awards banquet. “I really didn’t pick up a racket the whole time. It gave me a nice break from tennis, a real natural break as far as from tournaments and so forth.
“It made me hungry to get back on the (tennis) court and play.”
At a time when experts are calling for increased diversification in youth sports, Stark will talk about his experiences while growing up in Medford and share memories from his 11 years on the ATP Tour, where he was ranked No. 1 in doubles, won 19 men’s doubles titles and teamed with Martina Navratilova for one of his Grand Slam championships.
The banquet is Thursday at the Santo Community Center, 701 N. Columbus Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the program — featuring the selection of the SOSC’s male and female athletes of the year and the honoring of major contributors and athletes — begins at 5:30.
Tickets are $30, or four for $100, and can be purchased at or by calling 541-608-8517. They are $35 at the door.
Stark's story: Growing up in Medford, tennis stardom
PROmoting the community
February: Technology & Natural Resources
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