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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
6:46 PM Fri, Sept. 21st

Column: Put together a 'bucket list' for tennis players

Most of you have probably seen the recent movie "The Bucket List," which is a term meant for certain things you'd like to do before you "kick the bucket."

In this column I've put together a list of things that tennis players might want to do before they reach the promised-land and would love to have you e-mail me any special thoughts in that regard you'd like to add.

"Even though most of us won't get the opportunity to play at the four majors it would be nice to attend the Australian Open, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, our own personal "Grand Slam." And when you do kick the bucket, have small baggies of your ashes sent to the caretaker of each major site for them to let loose on the grounds.

"Since we live in Prescott, at the least we should attend the master's tennis tournament held at Indian Wells, Calif., as often as possible. All the top men and women attend this fine event, so put this on your calendar.

"While at the U.S. Open, take a day and travel to the "Tennis Hall of Fame" in Newport, R.I. Or, visit when they're inducting that year's new players, or holding their once a year tournament on grass.

"Write a letter or send an e-mail to your favorite players and tell them why you like them. It'll make their day and you may get a special response you'll have to treasure. Invite them to visit you if they're ever in the area.

"If you're an avid player, get in a tournament a month. Ask a different partner for each doubles event you play in and expand your circle of tennis friends. Ask a player of a lower ability to be your partner and see their surprise.

"Get yourself the newest racquet, shoes, outfit ... splurge a little on yourself when you normally might not.

"Take your next vacation to a well-known tennis camp and resort.

"Take a series of lessons and try to reach that next level; join the club you thought you never would; get in the physical shape you always new you could, but didn't take the time and effort to do.

"Pamper yourself with the TENNIS CHANNEL, a subscription to TENNIS magazine, the latest instructional tennis CDs and various recent tennis books that have been published.

"Take on the responsibility of helping to maintain one of the local tennis facilities. Clean up the trash and grounds every couple months. Replace or fix a ripped up net. Tack down a loose windscreen. Wash or use a blower to get the dirt and debris off the courts.

"Join your local tennis association and be an active participant. Help run a tennis event or tournament. Raise/donate money toward community tennis causes and programs. Hit or feed balls to a kid that normally wouldn't get that opportunity. Sponsor a child to a tennis or sports camp. Donate your old racquets to youth/college tennis programs to be handed out.

"Play on all three main surfaces, grass, clay and hard courts and see how you do on each.

"Get in a sanctioned state or national tournament even though you might get killed, just to see what the competition is like and how good the best players really are.

"Have your serve clocked and see if you and Andy Roddick or Venus Williams have anything in common.

"Urge a non-tennis playing friend of yours to join you for an hour of hitting some balls.

"Get your kids (or grandkids) racquets and balls for their birthdays. Then make and take the time to play tennis together ... and keep it fun!

"Collect some antique tennis memorabilia and put it up on your "feel good wall" at your home.

And when you're truly ready to "kick the bucket," set up a portion of your estate and create a local tennis trust fund that helps to maintain and enhance the public tennis facilities and programs. Then, way after you're gone, you'll still be around and appreciated in maybe more ways than ever before.

(Chris Howard is a local USPTA tennis professional with more than 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or choward4541@q.com)