The Olypmic Club
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2015
by Jay Capell
Al began his career following in his older brother Carlos' footsteps. Being a three-sport star, at Westmore High School, he saw his first tournament at the Olympic Club. It was the Hall of Fame gathering in 1977. To quote Al, "I was watching a B group and Carlos said, Al come over and watch these guys." It happened to be the Capell brothers playing against Henry Chaparro and Bob Brady. At that moment, he was hooked.
He played his first games at Golden Gate Park and was tortured by many of the Park veterans. What could be more fun then abusing a beginner? It probably was here that he became the intense, never say die competitor that I have known for years.
Al joined the San Mateo Elks and fell under the tutelage of Hall of Famer, Howie Wyrsch. Knowing Howie's "kind and gentle approach," Al became even tougher, and carried this "attitude" for the rest of his career.
After several years of playing at the Elks, and continuing his "initiation" at the Park, Al joined the Olympic Club in 1981. He breezed through the lower classes and became an Open Player quickly, competing against many of the Olympic Club greats, such as Jon Kendler, David Wyrsch, Chris Tico, Dean Crispen, and many others.
Victories at St Patrick's, Cinco, Memorial Day tournaments and a host of other events polished his game for future National runs. In 1988 he played in his first big tournament, a pro stop in Santa Rosa. He fought his way to the quarters where he beat the current number two pro Vince Munoz, 21-20 and 21-20. He lost in the semis to the current National champion Naty Alvarado. That year, at the Nationals in Berkeley, he entered both the Pro Division and the Open. He lost in the
4th round Pro Division to Poncho Monreal, and made it to the finals in the Open, losing to David Steinberg 21-16 and 21-18.
His later career included four National titles. Two National YMCA titles, one in singles and one doubles in 1994, and two USHA Master Double's titles in North Carolina and New Mexico. In his New Mexico run, he beat Fred Lewis in the doubles finals. Lewis later commented that, "Al's performance was the best exhibition of two handed offensive handball that I have ever competed against."
Al's career was cut short by continuing serious back issues. Had it not been for this, many more victories surely would have followed. Lately, he has donated numerous hours of his personal time to teaching young players at the Olympic Club.
It was my privilege to play against Al for many years, every "Hennessey Friday." For 10 years he dominated our game. He was a great player, great competitor, and even a better person.
Congratulations Al, you are a true Hall of Famer!