Friends and family gathered at in Glendora Friday to remember the energetic life of William Paul Baiotto, the retired Glendora Unified special education teacher who founded the famed Glendora Tennis Championships.
Baiotto, known to most as Paul, died Sunday from cancer at the age of 70.
As a 35-year special education teacher for the Glendora Unified School District, he was deeply committed to the success of all of his students. But perhaps his most lasting legacy, what longtime residents said they would always be grateful to Baiotto for, were the 44 years he coordinated the Glendora Tennis Championships.
Baiotto founded the annual tournament in 1959 when he was just 18. The idea was simply to create a local tennis tournament to give young summer tennis players a chance to compete, while promoting positive sportsmanship and leadership.
Each year, Baiotto was determined to see the tournament become even better than the year before.
“Paul always instilled in us that we were running the U.S. Open of Glendora,” friend and retired Glendora Unified teacher Bob Waldman said as he eulogized Baiotto during the memorial.
Throughout its 44-year run until the last tournament in 2003, the Glendora Tennis Championships had grown to include about 1,000 players each year. Players from all over the country, including big names such as Andre Agassi, played on local public courts froml to . Players from nearly all age groups, from 8 to 90 years old, participated in the tournament, sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association, the Southern California Tennis Association, and the International Tennis Federation. The championship matches drew hundreds of spectators.
Proceeds from the tournament went to the improvement of local tennis programs and courts.
“Paul’s ability to bring people together for a common cause with his leadership to get the job done made an impact on all of us,” said Waldman.
In 2003, Baiotto decided to step down as director due to his declining health from prostate cancer, effectively ending the Glendora Tennis Championships.
“We were so sorry to see it go,” said Waldman. “We just couldn’t get anyone in there who could do the job. Because no one could do it like Paul did.”
Baiotto was also remembered Friday as a loving family man who instilled the importance of education in his children. He also had a great love for his Glendora community. Aside from his efforts with the Glendora Tennis Championships and his career as a special education teacher, Baiotto gave generously to the Glendora War Memorial effort.
Baiotto was laid to rest Friday at in Glendora. He is survived by his wife Karen, sons Brian, Brad and Brent, and six grandchildren.