The sport of tennis can be played whether you are 5 or 50 and much beyond — male or female, short or tall. In Wenatchee, the availability of indoor and outdoor courts makes it a year-round activity.
Charl Grobler, the tennis pro at the Wenatchee Racquet & Athletic Club (WRAC), believes tennis should be fun and sociable. Charl (pronounced Shawl) retired at the end of April after having coached at the club for 35 years.
“In tennis, you develop relationships,” he pointed out. “It also helps the players to develop good values and manners. We rarely see the John McEnroe-type outburst on courts anymore.”
Char pointed out the large number of young players in the area.
“There is a whole network of people helping to keep the youth tennis going: teachers, coaches at school, parents. Being involved in tennis can help to improve family life and life in general,” he said.
Clint Vidano, the new head pro at the WRAC, said he’s noticed the rising popularity of tennis. It could be the influence of pickleball, a court game that is a fusion of table tennis, badminton and tennis, he said.
“Tennis is my biggest passion, “Clint said. “It’s a hobby I get to do every day. It has taught me discipline, focus and hard work.”
Peggy Ludwick, 72, has played tennis off and on since high school.
“In high school, I really wanted to be on the team. I liked the uniform,” Peggy said while chuckling.
These days she just wants to play, in any outfit. Peggy enjoyed Charl’s instruction over the years and said she will miss her coach.
“I play doubles three times a week,” Peggy said. “I enjoy the relationships with my partners. When I played singles, I learned self-reliance and taking on the challenge. Tennis is a mental game which requires focus and resilience.”
Happiness, she said, is walking away uninjured at the end of a match.
Elizabeth Nott, 57, said she basically lives on the tennis court.
“I started playing in my 40s,” Elizabeth said. “I play with my husband, son and whoever might ask. It doesn’t matter if they are old or young, beginners or advanced.”
Elizabeth and her husband, Sam, came to Wenatchee in 2005. They had no house, no jobs, nothing established but they headed to the WRAC first thing and became members.
“I am competitive,” Elizabeth confessed with a grin. “I play every day. The serve is my strength, and being able to mix up the balls.”
By mixing up, she means changing her hits so that sometimes they are slow, sometimes fast; she might throw in a high lob or a ball with extra spin.
One of the highlights in the game for Elizabeth was a “Mother and Son” tournament in Chicago that she and her son entered.
“My son and I went there to see what it was all about. We signed up, played and won,” Elizabeth said.
“The best thing about tennis for me is being outside, having fun and meeting other people. Don’t make it too serious — keep smiling,” she said.
Chloe Andrewjeski is the No. 1-ranked player on the Wenatchee High School girls team. She started playing at age 8 and now plays every day.
“I enjoy the travel and making friends,” said Chloe, a junior. “When I play, I am offensive and ambitious. I have a strong forehand, good aim and court sense.
“Charl has had the most impact in my tennis interest. He made it fun when I was initially intimidated about the game. I’ve helped him with the 10-and-under age group as well as middle school tennis. This summer, I will be coaching with (Wenatchee) Parks & Recreation.”
Whether you are relaxed or ambitious, young or old, a team player or more of a one-on-one person, you can make the game of tennis yours.