Oceanside High School alumni compete in national tennis tournament


Andy Funk, a 57-year-old Oceanside resident, made clear his unwavering passion for the game of tennis when he competed with his longtime friend and fellow Oceanside High School alumnus Jon Klee, 55, at the USTA League Mixed 55 and Over National Invitational tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona, March 22-24.

Funk, a litigation attorney and former tennis star at Oceanside High, had made a remarkable journey back to competitive tennis after a 30-year hiatus from the sport, and a bout with cancer.

Funk competed in 55-and-over mixed doubles in Scottsdale, partnering with Long Beach resident Shanon Blue, who captained the Long Island Region team of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Eastern Section. Teams began play at the local level, and the winners advanced to play those from other regions at sectional championships, which took place last summer in Schenectady. The winners of the sectionals advanced to the tournament in Arizona.

Funk and Klee’s team advanced to the national tournament after going undefeated in the sectionals last June. But a month after they advanced, Funk found out that he had head and neck cancer, and had to undergo 35 rounds of radiation and seven rounds of chemotherapy. He wound up losing 30 pounds, but made it through the treatment and made the trip to Scottsdale, where players from 14 districts across the country competed.

“It’s the type of experience that’s just very exciting, especially if you’re kind of old and you don’t do many exciting things anymore,” Funk said of USTA tournament play. “It’s a competitive environment, but it’s not cutthroat. It’s very well run and it’s very supportive. You’re flying to different places. Sometimes it’s Orlando, sometimes it’s Palm Springs, and in this case it was Scottsdale, and you have to win a lot to get there, so you never know if you’re going to get back. So you have to appreciate it while you’re there, and I think we all did.”

Despite his medical challenges, Funk was determined to play, and found solace in focusing on the competition.

“I never thought anything was dire,” he said of his illness. “I just figured it was going to be a tough couple of months, and it was. But one of the things that kept me going was thinking, I’ve got to get better so I can go play in these nationals. I would message John Klee and Shanon, to give me something to focus on other than feeling sick, and it really meant a lot to be there. I had been planning for this for a long time, but the doctor assured me, and my teammates assured me, I’d be ready.”

A standout at Oceanside High, Funk graduated in 1984, and earned a place in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame for tennis. He went off to college and later served in the Marine Corps before becoming an attorney.

Klee, his former teammate, stayed active in the sport, serving as the Long Island USTA president for six years, and is currently the secretary of the organization’s Eastern board. He also sits on the USTA’s National Constitution and Rules Committee. Klee graduated from Oceanside High in 1986 and, like Funk, went on to become an attorney — and eventually welcomed his friend back to the game.

“I still have friends and ties to Ocean-side, but I think that it’s pretty much tennis full circle,” Klee said. “You play with someone in high school and now, all of a sudden, you reunite and get to play with them on a team 40 years later. It’s fun to just reminisce and share the old stories, and have a good time laughing.”

Although the team fell just short of making it to the final four in Scottsdale, Klee said it was a great experience overall, especially for Funk.

“Andy, he’s truly jovial, but he’s a tough guy,” Klee said. “It was a surprise to all of us, but he did what he had to do, and I know, for him, when he got diagnosed, we had some months from the point that we won sectionals and before we had to go out to Nationals, and he was doing his treatment in between, so I know this was big for him, to get himself ready to play for nationals.”

Klee now lives in Sands Point but maintains ties to Oceanside, and sees his and Funk’s participation in the national tournament as a fulfilling moment in their tennis journey. Funk now plays most of his tennis at the Seawane Country Club, in Hewlett Harbor, and despite his professional commitments, he wants to continue playing tennis competitively, and looks forward to participating in future tournaments.

“He had his bout with cancer and he’s coming back full force right now,” Klee said. “It’s good to see him being able to compete at this level with everything that went on.”