Nothing but love for tennis
In late April of 2020, my husband came home from work to find me folding laundry and pouting. Dr Fauci’s daily update was competing with my three daughters playing LEGOs as background noise, and I was furiously sorting through a three-foot-tall pile of socks. He sat down across from me and asked the question every husband just loves to begin a conversation with:
“I miss tennis.” I tossed him two pairs of socks. “I miss my teammates. I love you dearly, and I love our children, but I really need to go hit something.”
“Well, is it played outside?” he asked.
“Of course it is.” I rolled my eyes.
“Will you be six feet away from everyone?”
“Sure. In singles or doubles, you’re always that far away from each other.”
“Then go play.” He sat back in the chair, crossed his arms, and grinned. “As long as it’s less than 10 people, you’re outside and far away from each other, then you’re meeting CDC guidelines. There’s no reason you shouldn’t — wait, where are you going?!?”
“To regrip my racquet! And I need to find my court shoes!” I yelled over my shoulder, leaving a wake of socks floating midair.
I’m not a natural athlete. I was a theatre geek in high school. But after a long war with post-partum depression, I’d learned that exercise was one of my greatest weapons. So after the birth of my third daughter, I pushed my pride aside and began showing up for Saturday morning drills at the former Brookhaven Country Club. Next thing I know, I was talked into joining a USTA adult recreational team. Did I win any of my games? Of course not. But it was the first time since becoming at stay-at-home-mom that my friendships didn’t revolve around my husband or children. My teammates and I sweated, laughed, and cheered each other on, and I left the court after each match smiling from the endorphins and inside jokes.
And then COVID hit.
Like many extroverts, I was hit hard with the quarantining and isolation the pandemic required. Once we got a grip on the basics of COVID, I was able to head back out to the courts. Drill groups were smaller, and we were armed with bottles of water and hand sanitizer, but we were able to exercise, socialize, and still remain safe. This hobby became my lifeline, and it’s one of the few positives I’m taking away from 2020.
Brookhaven is blessed with excellent tennis club facilities. We’ve got the Club at Ole Brook (formerly the Brookhaven Country Club) and Brookhill on Natchez. And while memberships to these facilities provide benefits, tennis should not be limited to those who can pay a monthly fee. As the only group sport that was considered safe by the CDC during the pandemic, free access to courts should be a priority for our city.
And Brookhaven is fortunate to have leadership that recognized that. It’s exciting that the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department is resurfacing the city tennis courts this spring. Matt Shell and the Recreation Board saw Brookhaven’s need for a free, safe place open to all tennis players. Once this project is complete, Brookhaven’s Community Tennis Association is looking forward to hosting free tennis clinics for both children and adults. The BCTA will provide racquets to use during the clinic, so all you have do it show up in a pair of sneakers. The USTA will also be able to use the courts as home base for a city team. Matches will be lit by the new LED lights, so play can happen in the evenings, too.
Be on the lookout for information about tennis clinics this summer at our newly redone tennis courts behind Lipsey Middle School. I’ll be out there; I won’t be the best or fastest, but I’ll have the biggest smile. Because tennis has become so much more than a hobby for me, and I hope you can experience the joy I’ve found in it, too.
Sarah Reynolds lives in Brookhaven and is a member of the Brookhaven Community Tennis Association. For more information on BCTA events, email her at SLReynolds915@gmail.com.