Sports Spotlight: Klein dominates the doubles circuit

Michael Benz

Standing at 6’0” and weighing 170 lbs, Thor Klein is one of the last athletes you’d expect to play tennis.

However, he has been a member of the varsity tennis team since arriving at Redwood as a freshman, when he was a thin 125 lb and 5’10.”

Klein, now a junior and captain, boasts an impressive 46-5 career record according to his partner, Zach Babikian, in doubles. Babikian spends more time with Klein on the court than anyone else.

“He doesn’t get mad or scared on the court. He doesn’t show any emotion no matter what,” Babikian said about Klein.

Klein is quiet, yet his friends know him as a fierce competitor.

Klein has played varsity doubles since his freshman year with partner Zach Babikian.
Klein has played varsity doubles since his freshman year with partner Zach Babikian.

“I would call him menacing,” varsity golf player Chad Ferrando said.

Ferrando has known Klein since elementary school. Ferrando spent considerable time with Klein on the baseball field when they were younger, and if tennis and baseball didn’t share the spring season, Klein would have likely played both sports in high school.

Klein stated that he still misses playing organized baseball.

The tennis captain grew up in Greenbrae, playing baseball in the Ross Valley Little League. He played many sports growing up, refining his competitive edge.

Klein began playing tennis at about the age of 7.

“It was either I did an after-school program or I did a tennis thing because I couldn’t get picked up [by my parents],” Klein said. “So, I chose the tennis thing.”

Klein said he doesn’t regret his decision to play tennis, because he feels he’s more skilled at tennis than at baseball.

Because he felt like he had nothing better to do, Klein began to hit the weights in his free time. He has been lifting seriously for about a year and a half.

“Due to my work in the gym, at the net I can get to more balls,” Klein said.

He never had a trainer, yet through using the free weights at Mt. Tam Racquet Club, he learned how to get stronger.

“Because I’m stronger, I can hit the ball harder,” Klein said.

More unique than his strength are his eyes. Klein was born with heterochromia, a genetic mutation that makes the eyes two different colors. Sometimes the variation is slight, but Klein has one brown eye and one green eye.

Often times Klein jokes with Babikian that due to his condition he can’t serve into the sun. However, his eyes have no real effect on his tennis game.

Although he doesn’t believe himself to be the best player on the team, and according to Klein he does not play in either of the top two slots, he has undoubtedly propelled himself into a leadership role on the team as one of the two captains of the varsity squad.

When he first started playing tennis, he took tennis lessons with some of his friends, the majority of whom have moved on from tennis to other sports.

“If Thor focused on baseball and didn’t play tennis I think he could’ve contributed to the program,” said Henry Zeisler, a starter on the varsity baseball team and a close friend of Klein’s.

Baseball has been a large part of Klein’s life, as his father has worked as an usher for Oakland Athletics for about seven years.

Despite his immense playing ability, he is not looking at colleges just for tennis, but he believes that wherever he goes he would want to play tennis at least at the club level.

The duo of Babikian and Klein are 11-2 this year, with their only losses coming against the tennis powerhouse and MCAL rival Tam Red-Tailed Hawks.