Claire Bailey gets into a serve at the 2012 USTA League National Championships nearly 20 years after her days as a touring professional player.
© Garrett Ellwood
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- For a former touring tennis professional, playing in this weekend’s USTA League 5.0 Adult National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is an opportunity to have some fun.
Claire Bailey (formerly Sessions) of the USTA Texas Section 5.0 women’s team played on the women’s professional tennis tour, as she competed on the Challenger and Satellite circuits from approximately 1993 through 1996.
During that time, she traveled around the world to places such as Africa, Canada, England, France and throughout the United States. She achieved a career-high singles ranking of 552 in the world and a career-high doubles ranking of 220.
"I always enjoyed going to England. Africa, of course was an experience that I’ll never have again. I went to see Victoria Falls," Bailey fondly remembered. "Usually you would take a day or two and see some sites."
Bailey also recollects the friends she made while playing on the tour. "The friendships, you’re in an isolated and lonely world and you kind of bond with the people that you’re out there with. Those are your friends, so you make the most of it."
Before turning professional, Bailey had played four years of collegiate tennis at Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas, prior to graduating with a degree in education in 1992.
Following her professional tennis career, Bailey returned to SMU and coached the women’s tennis team for four years. Today, the 42-year-old Dallas resident is married and a mother of three children and works in Real Estate.
When it came to playing tennis, Bailey’s competitive spirit burned brightly since she learned how to play the game in the fifth grade.
Most recently Bailey played in a local city tennis league in Texas until some of her teammates convinced her to join their USTA women’s 5.0 league team.
"I really did not know any of this (USTA leagues) existed. It’s pretty amazing. It feels good. I think it will be fun to be back playing competitive tennis and obviously the competition is going to be good," Bailey said.
As she prepared for her first match on Friday morning, Bailey said, "It’s fun to reconnect with the girls that are here and to get away and treat it as a vacation and have fun playing tennis."
Bailey and her USTA Texas Section women’s 5.0 team finished Friday’s action with a 1-1 record as they defeated the Midwest Section, 2-1 before falling to the Southern Section, 2-1.