Paean to Adult Tennis in Montgomery!

By on 5 September, 2016 in Fun, Lynne Schneider with 1 Comment
Photo by Alosh Bennett

Photo by Alosh Bennett

School has started, but summer does not feel officially over until the U.S. Open crowns its victors after Labor Day.

Some friends made the pilgrimage to New York this week for America’s own Grand Slam tennis tournament. I’d love to see the Absolute Greats. Okay, mostly, I’d love to see the Williams sisters. Every top-10 pro is crazy good, but lately (36-year-old) Venus is wit and grace and elegance personified, and at her (almost-35-year-old sister) Serena is fierce genius and art.

We Gumpers left behind can tune the action in on ESPN or ESPN2.

While we might not be courtside this week in New York, year ‘round Montgomery is a great place for tennis. In early spring, we can watch Monster Good college players battle at Lagoon Park in the Blue Gray Tennis Classic (next tourney, 2.24-25, 2017, http://bluegraytennis.com), for example, but tennis is not just a spectator’s sport.

Montgomery’s United States Tennis Association (USTA) amateur leagues launch the Fall Season the week of 9.11. To get involved, contact Montgomery’s new USTA League Coordinator Keith Wilson at keithwilson4077@bellsouth.net.

If league play sounds daunting or like too much of a commitment, Montgomery’s own River Region Team Tennis (RRTT) is an easy and fun all-doubles, all-levels opportunity to play. 8:30 AM Saturdays at Lagoon Park, match play is organized by Captains so that everyone gets the best chance of a challenging, competitive match. If that sounds more to your liking, contact RRTT founder and indefatigable organizer Ernie Rains at ernierains@gmail.com for more information. RRTT play begins 9.10, but you can jump into the action any time!

A Word about Adult Tennis in Montgomery:

You need no special skills to start playing the lifelong sport of tennis. You don’t even need to like the idea of “lifelong sport” or any sports at all. Consult your doctor as necessary, but to get involved in Montgomery you need only a willingness to meet nice people and play fair!

When I moved to Montgomery, I got into league play because I didn’t know anyone and I wanted to have fun. Tennis answered both issues.

I know it can be daunting (scary, even!) to get out and try new activities. If you grew up under the shadow of “the last kid picked on the playground,” you might feel panic at the idea of starting something new. However terrified I was every time I picked up my racquet, I found Montgomery’s tennis community to be warmly inclusive, accepting, and encouraging.

I entered the world of Montgomery tennis one Friday night at Lagoon Park. I barely knew which end of the stick was supposed to hit the ball. I googled Tennis in Montgomery and called Lagoon Park (334-240-4051). I learned about some informal doubles matches. I took a deep breath and drove out there. I felt kind of baptized in sweat – the Alabama ecosystem was new to me: in the 90’s, temp and humidity, until well after dark. Still, I played as hard as I could (including a flying attempt to get a ball at the net with a trophy skinned knee), and learned just how unremarkably terrible I was. But those folks encouraged me to come back! And I did.

I guess my life lesson is this: Once you show up, wonderful things happen. Here are a couple of things I found:

  • Adult tennis in Montgomery is a large and wonderfully diverse group. Great people of every description: age, size, gender, skill level, education, profession, philosophy, and temperament. I mean that: every kind of adult human comes out to play!
  • I am starting to connect to my inner Warrior Princess. I grew up in the People-Pleasing-Polite Midwest, where Niceness (especially for girls and women) is the primary virtue. I’m relieved and happy to report that I am letting go of that saccharine burden.
  • I learn more all the time about my mind-body connection through the act and the art of tennis. It’s not cosmic – I mean this in a very ordinary way.
  • When I moved South, I was in pain all of the time. Now that I think of it, I don’t generally feel even a small fraction of the pain I used to endure.
  • I discover connections every day between my emotions, foods I eat, how well I sleep, my health, and how I feel on the court.
  • I might even feel more than I used to feel. Everyone knows that exercise can deliver an endorphin rush along with other neurotransmitter-bliss states (AKA “natural highs”), but I think the whole palette of emotion changes with exercise and happy social engagement. The way we feel life can grow more fluid, more nuanced, through the art of tennis.

Once you get out there on the court, you can learn a lot from your fellow players where and how to amp up your learning curve in the game. Tennis opportunities are so plentiful in Montgomery, I will forget some if I try to list them, but to get started, call Montgomery’s public parks: Lagoon Park Tennis (334-240-4051) and O’Connor Tennis Center (334-240-4884), the YMCA of Greater Montgomery (334-269-4362), and/or “Like” RRTT on Facebook! See you out there! Racquets up!!!

Lynne Schneider earned a doctorate in the frozen north, after which a miracle occurred: Alabama State University offered her a faculty position and she happily relocated to Montgomery where she teaches literature and writing, and where lovely people play tennis all year long!

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  1. Mary Ann Beggs says:

    Great article! And so true! I have found tennis in retirement and love it ( and the people who play).

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