John was born and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota as the sixth of seven children. It must have been fate when Sergio and Eleanor moved there with their five children and one on the way and bought the white house across from the Riverside Park tennis courts. John was born a short time later (followed by another sister) and basically grew up on those courts, learning the game from his siblings, coach father, and more pick-up games than you can count. It proved to be a great training ground, and his passion for the game developed as well.
John played all sports, with tennis and hockey being his main focus. After a successful junior career, he attended Grand Forks Central High School. There he was a four time state champion in tennis (three times in doubles, one in singles) and three time state champion in hockey. He was runner –up for North Dakota Athlete of the Year in 1977. John’s passion for all games grew almost as a genetic rite. He feels very strongly about the life lessons learned through sports, such as perseverance, failure, humility, compassion, and the joy of achievement.
After leaving Grand Forks he attended Gustavus Aldolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, where he majored in accounting and played hockey and tennis. College tennis coach Steve Wilkinson’s Tennis and Life philosophy reinforced many of the things instilled by John’s father, and the Gusties became a power house of Division III tennis.
Following college John became USPTA certified as a tennis instructor and worked at Nicolet Tennis Center in Minneapolis. This was his first experience in the business of tennis and he did everything from working the desk, racket stringing and repair, court cleaning, and teaching.
In 1987 he moved to West Bend when he married Jacci Albiero, and he became a tennis pro at Mequon Racquet Club. John gives credit to Mequon owners Rick Vetter and George Eisen for showing by example how a first rate club operates. He combined this with his hometown, grass roots love of the game, and has tried to create a culture where everyone feels welcome and part of the whole. Pleasant Valley is one of a very few family run clubs, and its success has not only been a function of ownership and staff, but of the members who continue to support the club.
John and Jacci have spent the last 30 years creating a family and building up Pleasant Valley to what you see today. It has truly been a labor of love. They reside in West Bend where they raised their children Alyssa, Joe, and Gina.