Ryan Vanna was in the tiebreaker of a mixed doubles tennis match Sunday afternoon at Red Rock Country Club when he fell to his knee.
The 43-year-old, with a lifelong passion for the sport and whose teams at Red Rock Country Club recently celebrated a pair of national championships, got his hands on the hard courts and lay back.
Doctors watching the game rushed to perform CPR, but after 55 minutes of medical attention, his heart had not restarted.
Vanna’s family had a history of high blood pressure, and he was on medication. His sister, Tammy Van Kang, said he has not shown any signs that he is not dealing with the health problem.
“He took impeccable care of his health,” she said. “He was so fit. Lifting weights. He looked like a bodybuilder to me. He was huge. We weren’t expecting this to come.”
Called at 5:10pm on Sunday, moments after her brother collapsed, Fana Kang found her sister-in-law, Dr. Catherine Fana, among those trying to revive him.
It wasn’t until they got to Summerlin Hospital and Medical Center that she and her husband broke down in tears.
Ryan Vanna died at Summerlin Hospital later that day. The doctor and medical staff at Summerlin Hospital said they believed he was taking the wrong blood pressure medication.
The coroner’s office had not yet ruled on an official cause and manner of death until Tuesday.
Vanna was the youngest of four children, all of whom grew up in Las Vegas. He graduated from Durango High School, where he participated in the state tennis tournament.
In a family full of lawyers and doctors, his sister said, he took up tennis full time after working in security and as a sports coach. He also taught children at local primary schools, hooked other players’ rackets for extra money and practiced at Red Rock, Darling Tennis Centre, and Lifetime in Henderson.
“It was a huge teddy bear,” said his sister. “It only took him a minute to befriend even his opponents.”
Last week, the Red Rock Country Club gathered to celebrate their second consecutive United States Tennis Association National Championship in the 40+ age group and 18+ age group.
Vannah was on both teams when they took home the titles last year, and his sister said he smiled brightly amidst his teammates and friends.
“He and my husband were on the team,” said Fana Kang. “It was fun to watch. We don’t think it’s been done before.”
“a really sad day”
Friend and Red Rock pro Shaun Hubbard met Fana two years ago after Fana began playing seriously again. He said that Vanna and his fiancee, Melissa Hicks, were beloved members of the tennis community.
Hubbard said Sunday was the second time he had seen a player collapse on the field. He said another man collapsed on the Red Rock tennis court about eight years ago.
“Seeing a friend go down like that, it’s definitely tough,” Hubbard said Monday. “For everyone in Las Vegas who played tennis with him, it was a really sad day.”
Dan Michalski, a fellow recreational tennis player, said Vanna helped organize a party last month for more than 100 tennis players across the Valley to celebrate after each player’s new ratings were released.
“He was a friend to anyone,” Michalski said. “The entire tennis community was really shaken by this.”
Michalski said he didn’t compete with Fana much because Fana was a better player, and he was shocked when he thought of someone in their forties dying suddenly.
“It’s really a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “Especially when it was so vibrant and full of life, that was an integral part of the community.”
Vana is survived by his parents, Robert and Marsha Vana, siblings Vana Kang, Matt Vana, Natalie Vana Dunn, his fiancée, brother-in-law Dr. Parminder Kang and Dave Dunn, sister-in-law Dr. Catherine Vana, and 13 daughters and sons.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. on February 11 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1801 Monte Cristo Road.
An earlier version of this story erred the year the Red Rock Country Club won championships, which attempted to revive Vanna, and the date of the memorial service.
Contact Sabrina Schnur at email@example.com or 702-383-0278. Continued @tweet on Twitter.