Former tennis pro finds passion in painting

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SAN DIEGO -- Walter Redondo has built a successful career as a professional painter with much of his work featured in local San Diego galleries. But he only changed his strokes after hitting his breaking point in another successful career on the tennis court.

"Sometimes a painting isn't necessarily a painting, it's just what it may convey in a person and where they are and what they're going through," Redondo said.

Those who engage with his art don't have to understand it, but it's Redondo's hope that his abstract craft will offer others a new perspective. "I am painting to have something beautiful, but painting something more that is very gritty is something I totally believe in," Redondo said. "When I go to paint, I'm looking for my voice -- not someone else's voice, but what I can put forth that will hopefully have an effect on someone else."

The 61-year-old self-taught artist left behind a professional tennis career to pursue his passion. In the late 1970s, Redondo ranked number one in the country as a junior before playing several years on the Association of Tennis Professionals world tour.

"I would use art as relaxation after I would get off the court training," Redondo said. "I would notice that, while I was painting, time would stand still and I would just get lost for hours."

Eventually he lost the heart for tennis and fear slowly seeped into his career, limiting his ability to compete at the level that was expected. At 27 years old, Redondo decided to trade his tennis racket for a paint brush.

"I was telling my wife Maureen that when I start to paint, I'm going to paint totally free, like a child," Redondo said. "I'm not going to concern myself with the things that I had in tennis. I'm going to get there on the canvas and become a kid. And that's what happened."

But the Spring Valley resident didn't abandon tennis entirely. Redondo coaches tennis at St. Augustine High School, where he's combined his artistic vision with teaching.

"What I'm looking for is to be able to bring out that excellence in an individual as a coach. I think that, when I go to do what I do, I'm always striving for that next level," he said. "So I'm always looking for that next level in coaching as well."

Whether it's thousands of hours spent playing tennis or thousands of strokes on a canvas, an evolving perspective remains constant.

"When I see something, I just now have to move into it -- and I'm either going to move with fear or absolute faith," Redondo said. "This is very similar to the tennis court. When I think about the similarity between what I'm doing on the court, I start with one stroke and end with one stroke and all the things that are attached in the center are very similar: the focus, the intuition, the involvement."

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