Want to Hit a Few?

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Mom and Dad met on a tennis court in Pasadena, California, and all five members of our family learned to play tennis with some level of proficiency. I began formal instruction in Santa Barbara at the age of ten. I soon caught the tennis bug, and my pals and I would spend our afternoons at the Biltmore courts hitting balls until it was too dark to see. Going to high school in Maine put limits on my expectations of becoming a world-class player, but I have played the game for more than fifty years and I’ve taught it for over forty years. Southern California was a hotbed for top-level competitors and some of the best athletes I knew were tennis players rather than football or basketball players. When we began coming to the 1000 Islands in 1961, I brought my tennis rackets with me and looked for people and places to play. I didn’t have to look far because the Thousand Islands Club where Mom and Betsy stayed for a month that first summer had a pair of clay tennis courts. The courts I’d played on in California were strictly cement or asphalt, and I’d never even seen a clay court except on television until then. I’ve seen old photos of the original TI Club courts with ladies playing in ankle-length dresses and men in white flannel pants. Benches wide enough to seat four were located courtside for spectating. Each bench is shaded by a striped awning overhead. Two such structures had been erected at the side of each court, and there were eight of these sitting areas addressing the four clay courts. A second viewing area behind the East end of the courts consisted of a raised, open pavilion with columns supporting a roof. Spectators watching the matches were in formal attire that included coats and hats for the men and long dresses and bon... ... middle of paper ... ...as as well as I could ever remember playing up to that point in my development. I spent the next five years and countless hours working to become an accomplished tennis player and gradually the hard work paid off. When a rally got to fifty shots, I hoped it would reach a hundred. I learned to attack when good opportunities presented themselves and keep the ball in play otherwise. I captured a Southern California open tournament in 1974 and the Championships of Galway, Ireland in 1975. I won many tournaments in the years that followed, but I credit that afternoon in Cannes, France as the catalyst that caused me to appreciate that becoming an adept tennis player was not a gift that was going to arrive in my mailbox one day. I realized that it was going to take focus, hard work, and dedication to bring my tennis-playing aspirations or any other worthy goal to fruition.

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