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Wed, Oct. 16

Column: Youth doesn't always reign at Drop-In

"COME ON, give me your best shot. OLD MAN!"That's the kind of trash talk you might hear at the college courts during Drop-In-Tennis on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from one 70-plus year old to another during play.Not that all the players at Drop-In are old. In fact, there's a pretty good mix of players ranging from teenagers to seniors in their 80s. And, it's interesting to see how few barriers there really are between youngsters and oldsters while playing tennis.It's easy to see a major difference in people 70 and over who have stayed physically active and fit. They are better balanced, more confident, outgoing, have a faster mindset and in general seem to have more zest for life. Most will live longer and have a better quality of life."My wife just told me I had to get out of the house," said Don Smith, 75, who many times helps me run the warm up clinic when the numbers get too large for one court. Don is in great shape and moves unbelievably."I do it for exercise, competitive spirit and the fun of competitive tennis," chimed in soon to be 77 year-old George Reynolds.At 78, Fritz Kloss plays to help keep alive his quality of life. "And if health permits I'll be doing it into my 90s."Claire Feiefeisel, 77, said he'd be great, "Except I can't see, I can't hit the ball and I can't move ... but it gets me out to enjoy the exercise, friends and all kinds of wonderful people to meet. I have had a knee replacement, along with two previous surgeries, glaucoma and other stuff. But I just won't let it keep me down for long."Marv Bowman, 81, said, "I play because I still believe I'm the Energizer Bunny." And if you see him move and hit the ball, he'll make you a believer, too.No doubt there are different ailments that just won't permit you to continue playing a game like tennis, but not for that many people.So what if you can't move as fast as you used to. So what if you make more mistakes than you might like. So what if it takes you a little longer to catch your breath. At the end of the day no one really cares about the wins and losses, it's the fun, exercise and friendships that keep you returning week after week, year after year.When Sid Moglewer, mid 80s, and his wife Edna, 80, make their way to the courts and answers how he's doing with, "Not well, but I'm not dead yet and I'm here, so better than some," you've just got laugh.Ev Hendricks, Gaylen Herstein, Russ St. Pierre, Pat Durban, Mary and Bob Widen, Joan Herstein, Helen, Moniver, etc., and the list goes on and on. These people are vivacious, lovers of life, and young-oldster tennis players.Now maybe your thing is bowling, golf, bridge, walking, fishing, biking, swimming, yoga, or some other activity and that's great. But if you're one of those folks who are waking up late each morning and not getting dressed until lunch time, just waiting until the grim reaper catches up with you just remember, it doesn't have to be that way.Don't take my word for it, take a drive to the courts in the mornings and take a look. Check out the senior softball teams, call the bowling alley and ask about leagues. Take a class at Yavapai College. If you don't take life by the horns, it'll just pass you by and what a shame that would be.(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 choward4541@q.com)
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