On the surface, next Tuesday’s Terra Nova-Capuchino girls’ tennis match in San Bruno would not garner much attention. Just another Peninsula Athletic League tennis match between a pair of middle-of-the-pack Ocean Division squads.
Tuesday, however, is about more than a simple tennis match. It’s a chance for both teams and their communities to raise awareness for a cause that touches millions of lives: breast cancer.
Tuesday, Oct. 8, the Capuchino girls’ tennis team will celebrate its second annual “Breast Cancer Awareness Day” beginning 3 p.m. at the Capuchino tennis courts.
“We wanted to start our girls early (about breast cancer awareness),” said Capuchino coach Rich de Leon.
De Leon said invited guests include state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane and representatives from the American Cancer Society, Seton Medical Center, the Cancer Prevention Institution of California, Kaiser Permanente and Susan G. Komen Foundation.
De Leon said he first got the idea last year when one of his assistants suggested doing it. He quickly realized how prevalent a disease breast cancer, in particular, and cancer, in general, is.
“We started kind of small. But the more we talked about it, we found one parent and then another parent (who had breast cancer),” de Leon said. “This year, we got another assistant and he said he had someone is his family who had breast cancer.
“It is curious that the more we talk to people about our event the more we find out that it touches more lives than we know.”
De Leon said even the Terra Nova coach is a cancer survivor, so it has touched a lot of lives in both the Capuchino and Terra Nova communities.
“It shows (the players) it doesn’t have to be them. It could be their mother, it’s their sister (who gets the disease),” de Leon said.
De Leon said his biggest problem is trying to relate to his players. He admits it’s awkward on both sides to talk about such a personal matter. The fact he is a male trying to talk to teenage girls about a decidedly female topic isn’t easy, de Leon said.
“I’m a guy. [My players] don’t talk to me about these things,” de Leon said. “But if they see people from Kaiser, from Seton Medical, people from their neighborhood, have the mayor telling them (it has a lot more impact).”
Last year, de Leon and the team decorated the courts with plenty of pink: pink balloons, streamers and even used pink tennis balls during the matches.
While it may have looked pretty, it wasn’t very practical, de Leon said. He said the blustery winds in San Bruno caused the balloons to pop at inopportune moments and the players complained they couldn’t see the pink balls as well as the traditional green/yellow balls.
“This year, we’re thinking about different [decorations],” de Leon said.