Wimbledon Fanatic

I have been a tennis player most of my life.  Long before running became a passion of mine, tennis was my life.  I first picked up a tennis racquet at about the age of eight.  I lived in a household of tennis players, and quickly became quite a good player over the years.

When I was growing up, I played every chance I got.  I loved it.  I loved learning, and I loved getting better at it.  We played as a family.  We played doubles, we played singles.  I played all the way though Junior and Senior High School on the tennis team.  My Senior year I played #2 singles, and finished my high school tennis career with a record of 16-2 that final season.  I made it to the State Qualifying tournament one year.  I played in several local tennis tournaments, playing men’s doubles and mixed doubles.  Actually winning three tournaments before I hit 21 years old.  I loved it!

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I also watched a lot of tennis on television back then.  I loved watching John McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors.  Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras.  Loved watching Steffi Graf, and Martina and Chrissy.

Once I got married and started my own family, I had much less time for tennis, or even watching it on TV for that matter.  I never lost my love for the sport, and even joined a USTA men’s tennis team several years ago when I once again dove back into the sport.  With age comes injuries, and I’ve spent the better part of the last few years with some pretty exhausting tendon issues in my elbows due to work, so I haven’t been able to play hardly at all.  This past Spring, I watched several of my sons tennis matches at his High School, and it really made me yearn to get back out on the tennis court again.  Here is a photo of him from the local newspaper.

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Well, in honor of Wimbledon, this morning my son and I got out on the tennis court.  Probably the first time I’ve played in the last year or so.  It felt so good.  We had a blast.  The best news?  My arms feel good still.  The last time I played my elbows instantly hurt after a few rallies, and I could only play for about 15 minutes.  Today though, a full hour and a half, no pain.  Pretty stoked about it.

Because of my long time connection to tennis, and my new found love of running over the past several years, when I decided that I wanted to find a charity team and fundraise for a chance to run the New York City Marathon this year, my choice was clear.  I was a big fan of American tennis professional James Blake years ago.  He’s retired now, but started a foundation to honor his late father who died of gastric cancer.

This is James at Wimbledon….

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He played with a lot of passion, and made it to #4 in the world at one point in his career.  He was always fun to watch.  I decided to join the charity team, and will be representing the James Blake Foundation when I run the New York City Marathon this year.  I pledged to raise at least $3,000 for this cause, which provides vital resources in finding a cure for cancer.  The research that goes into the effort is funded by donations.  It is very important work that they are doing, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a team member for the 2015 race.

I have been reaching out to family and friends, soliciting donations for the past few months and have made some great progress.  Funds have come from all over, from runners, and tennis fans, from strangers, bloggers and even my closest family.  As of today, 6/30/15, I have raised a total of $1,245.  Nearly the half way point in my efforts, I am asking for more help and donations for this fine charity.

Please help me to reach my goal.  It feels so good to give, so won’t you please consider a donation today?  Please share this post on your own blogs, or share in other ways so that I can reach as many potential donors as possible.  I thank you!

The link above takes you directly to my fundraising page where making a donation it so simple and quick.

Thanks again!

My other favorite sport

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Aside from running, I’d have to say that tennis is my favorite sport.  At a young age, my parents got me out on the tennis court and taught me the basics of the game.  Tennis quickly became of love of mine, that would last my entire life.

I played a lot growing up.  First, I played a great deal with my brother, who is three years older than me.  We would ride our bikes down to the High School, and hit balls whenever we had the chance.  I also was lucky enough to take tennis lessons during the long, cold winters in upstate NY.  I played for my High School team, from 8th grade on.  First I played doubles, and once I was able to compete with the older guys, I played singles.  I had a very successful High School tennis career.  I even made it to the State Qualifier tournament my last two years in school.  I also won a few Mixed Doubles tournament on a local level during my college years.

From that point on, I played a lot of recreational tennis with buddies in college, and had a blast.  Tennis is great for keeping in shape, and overall fitness.  I played USTA tennis on a local Men’s team a few seasons, until I really got into running.  Honestly, I had to stop playing tennis so much because of an issue with my elbow, that just hasn’t gone away in over 7 years now.  Surgery is really the only option I have left, so I’ve chosen to just play tennis occasionally with my sons.

Back when I was growing up, I watched a lot of tennis on TV.  Back in the days when I think professional tennis was in its heyday.  I loved watching Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.  I am not so much a fan of the power game that tennis technology has brought into the game these days.  I loved the finesse, and angles, the net game and longevity that used to be a part of the sport.  I absolutely loved Steffi Graf!  She brought an excitement to the game, that I think was unmatched.

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Steffi was so much fun to watch!  She had great speed, reflexes, and nerve.  She had a hugely successful career, and still holds many records to this day.

John McEnroe was my favorite on the men’s side.  His style of play, tenacity, and on court antics were so much more fun to watch than tennis today.

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Maybe I am showing my age, but I prefer a tennis game that was more thoughtful than powerful.  I actually like to watch tennis players construct points, and think.  The power game today is so much less interesting.  Hitting a 140 mph ace, time and time again, short points of a shot or two or three, not thrilling.  I want to watch long rallies and really care about tennis again.  In times gone by, when a Grand Slam was on TV, I would be glued to the television, trying to watch as much as I could.  I barely watch it anymore.  It’s very sad to me.  I have no interest in watching players like Serena Williams, who rely solely on power.  That is just not fun to watch.  Not to me anyway.

I do however, have a few chances left to see some good tennis.  I am thrilled that Lleyton Hewitt, and Ana Ivanovic are still in the draw.  Great ground strokes, and fun to watch.  I will be cheering both of them on today, and wishing that tennis could return to a less powerful game.  A game where the player wins, not the racquet.

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Tennis, my first love, but now a close second to running.