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Fri, Oct. 18

Column: On the court with Bette Nisi

Anytime you play in a tournament at the Prescott Racquet Club, you'll encounter a lady with a New York accent that checks you in, collects your entry fee, hands you a T-shirt in the size you wanted and nicely, but directly, tells you when you'll play your first match.As the tournament continues, she'll record your scores and let you know when your next match will play, not to mention answer any other questions you might have tennis related or otherwise, like a tennis chamber of commerce.During the in-between times she'll give you a running commentary on who's winning or losing, how the matches were, and give you that hometown club feeling that makes people want to come back. She's one of those great volunteers that tennis director Bernie Adam knows is worth her weight in gold.It's not uncommon to then see her out on the court doing battle in a women's or mixed event herself, many times pulling down another tennis title.If you've been around tennis in the Prescott area the past 25 years then you probably already know the renowned Bette Nisi and I took the time to find out a little more about this wonderful lady.CH: Tell us how you landed in Prescott and your tennis background.BN: My husband Joe and I came to Prescott 26 years ago from New York. We felt Prescott was the right choice considering the weather, beauty, etc. At the age of 8 my uncle put a racquet in my hand and basically said, "Play," and I haven't put it down since.I played on my college tennis team in Kentucky along with softball, fencing, swimming and horseback riding. My major was in Physical Education. You might say I was a Tomboy of sorts.CH: What's your tennis schedule like today?BN: I try to play five times a week, take a lesson on Mondays and a clinic on Tuesdays, while entering many club exchanges throughout the year, some here in Prescott and others away. Sports have always been a way of life for me and since I'm now alone I find it's a wonderful way to relax, have fun and momentarily forget your problems.CH: What are some of your more recent tennis highlights?BN: In October of 2001, after having been captain of several USTA women's teams, I was fortunate to have a team that won our region, sectionals and then got to go to nationals where we ended up as finalists. We had a great time meeting people from all over the county and all walks of life and that will always be an unforgettable experience. The girls on our team were just super.CH: How did you get into helping run the tournaments at the Prescott Racquet Club?BN: I started helping with the tournaments six years ago after Joe died. I like meeting new people and Bernie was kind enough to let me be part of this wonderful group. They're like family to me.CH: Who are your favorite tennis players and why?BN: Living in NY and Long Island, I was able to go to the U.S. Open every year. I enjoyed watching Steffi Graf, Chris Everett, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, but also enjoy many of the newer players today. It seems they all do so much to promote the game, sponsoring camps, clinics ... giving their time to help others and grow the game.CH: How has tennis benefited you personally?BN: The Prescott Racquet Club has been a second home for me and I do appreciate the many times they have helped me in time of need. All the memories, friends, matches, the physical and mental, travel, laughs, hard work and play ... it's just the best game anyone could want to be a part of.Bette continued to say she'd like to see some additional courts built in Prescott, especially covered ones.And as for all of us to her, thanks for making tennis in our community better.(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or
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