The Southern California tennis community is in shock following the death of 55-year-old Costa Mesa tennis coach Brian Ricker from an apparent suicide. The longtime coach at Mesa and Corona del Mar before that was killed by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in an incident that police discovered when his car was set ablaze.
No one has stepped forward with any theory about why Ricker apparently decided to take his own life.
“Brian was a very selfless individual when it came to helping kids,” Corona del Mar Assistant Principal Daniel Patterson, who worked as an assistant to Ricker on tennis teams for four years, told the Los Angeles Times. “He would do anything for anyone who wanted it and needed it.
“We talked frequently. We played tennis weekly. He was one of my closest friends. I was informed [of his death] by authorities. I don’t want to comment about the details. I don’t want the focus to be how his life ended. I want it to be how he lived his life.”
Ricker’s players apparently agreed with that sentiment, though only half of them have been willing to continue competing in 2016 without their coach. According to the Times, four players — two singles players and one doubles team — have decided they will continue competing, to play for and honor their coach.
Meanwhile, all those who knew Ricker continue to mourn their loss.
“I always used to say Brian was my third parent,” former Corona del Mar tennis player Mckenzie Purcifull, now at UCLA, told the Times in an email. “I told him everything, and he helped me through a lot more things than just tennis. The last time I talked to him was April 12, which is both of our birthdays.
“Every year in high school we would exchange gifts, usually consisting of UCLA tennis shirts or hats. He knew that was my dream school and helped me get accepted. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know if I would even be at UCLA. He genuinely cared about all of his players, and he and I had a special bond that I will never forget. I just wish he knew how much he meant to all of us.”