The Southern Marin tennis community has suffered a great loss with the sudden passing of beloved coach Bernard Sutter on Thursday, December 2, 2021.
Bernard Pascal Sutter was born on August 19, 1965, in Toulouse, France to Juliette and Emile Sutter. He spent his childhood and school years in Toulouse, where he played competitive team handball, soccer, racquetball, and eventually tennis. After attending university, Bernard moved to Southern California, where he was taken in by an American family, the Steiners. It is there where Bernard quickly became an accomplished player. From that point on, there was nothing else more important to him.
Bernard turned his passion for tennis into a career. For over 30 years, Bernard taught all over the world, including Toulouse, Martinique, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Berkeley, Moraga, and Marin County. After receiving his teaching accreditation, he became the head coach for the legendary Robert Lansdorp Junior Program (coach of Pete Sampras, Tracy Austin, Maria Sharapova, and many more). He went on to teach at Moraga Country Club for 15 years.
Although French to his very core, Bernard loved living in California and finally realized his American dream when he purchased his first home in Moraga. In the late 2000s, he took a brief break from tennis and began trading stocks from his home, but returned to teaching tennis full-time in 2012 when he began working for Higgins Tennis. Over the next nine years, in Tiburon alone, Bernard worked with approximately 2,000-3,000 people, representing more than 1,500 families.
Bernard was a reserved man who was reluctant to share much of his private life, but everyone knew two things for sure: He lived for his work; and he loved his Corgi companion Beau.
Bernard was a fixture on the Del Mar tennis courts. From sun up to sun down, rain or shine, you knew where to find him. It wasn’t simply because he had an incredible work ethic. It was obvious that it brought him such joy. He remained patient and encouraging as he spent hour after hour teaching children and adults of all abilities. And he did it with a smile and great sense of humor. He was genuinely interested in all of his clients. He considered so many his friends. The feeling was mutual.
And when you saw Bernard, Beau was sure to be nearby. A steady companion, Beau was the canine version of Bernard: sweet, patient and beloved. When Beau passed 6 months ago, Bernard really felt his absence. True to his style, he immediately returned to the tennis court, but said he was teaching with a “heavy heart.”The entire tennis community is now walking around with heavy hearts.
Bernard was pre-deceased by his father, Emile, and his half-sister Dominique. He is survived by his mother, Juliette; his ex-wife, Devon Hardwick; his “American father,” Dr. Richard Steiner, his “American sisters,” Jeanelle Steiner and Shauna Steiner Torok; and several nieces. He leaves behind many close friends whom he considered friends for life. He loved and cared for people deeply and they felt it. Bernard impacted more people than he will ever know and he will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Milo Foundation at www.milofoundation.org/donate in honor of Bernard’s love for his four-legged friends.