Team captain Carol Hampson and coach Morris Gardner
By Jessica Hall, special to USTA.com
Coach Morris Gardner always believed that tennis was the perfect sport through which families could bond, and he encouraged all of the children he taught to be able to play tennis with their moms.
Little did he know that the moms would become such tennis success stories in their own right.
In 2010, Gardner put together his USTA Southern California women’s 18 & Over 3.5 squad. It is a team of 16 players comprised completely of mothers who met while watching their children play tennis at Queen Anne Recreation Center in Los Angeles, where the kids were coached by Gardner.
“Each youth practice, the mothers would come watch their children play, so I asked the moms to take lessons with me so we could form a team,” Gardner said. “The team is very diverse.”
For team captain Carol Hampson, the diversity of the group has been an advantage. Her teammate, Nancy Ngo, is a hearing-impaired singles and doubles tennis player, who has taught the rest of the team a lesson in overcoming life’s roadblocks.
“You would never guess that there’s anything wrong because she plays like there’s no problem,” Hampson said.
“She’s an incredible person, and I think we’ve all become more sensitive to the problems other people have, thanks to Nancy,” adds Gardner. “She’s an absolute jewel to work with and is one of the better players we have.”
In its first year of existence, the team began the season by winning its first five matches and eventually going on to Sectionals. Since then, the mom squad has advanced to Sectionals every year, culminating with a trip to the 2013 USTA League Nationals in Tucson, Ariz.
“I told them that if they came to practice they would become better players, but I couldn’t guarantee that they would win any matches,” Gardner said. “This is an incredible opportunity for our team because we’ve come a long way.”
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