By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Only two years after he began playing tennis, Dominic Losacco, a 71-year-old clinical psychologist from Tulsa, Okla., is playing in this weekend’s USTA League Tennis 3.0 Senior National Championships.
He can thank his girlfriend for that accomplishment.
Losacco, captain of the Missouri Valley Senior 3.0 men’s team, became a widower in 2007 when his wife passed away.
In 2010, he met Judy Fitzpatrick and something special happened.
"I met this beautiful woman who had been playing tennis for 30 to 40 years and she’s a 4.0 tennis player," said Losacco. "One look at her and I decided to put my golf clubs away and picked up a tennis racquet."
After meeting Fitzpatrick, Losacco, who had played golf for about 20 years, said there was no question about abandoning his golf game to learn how to play tennis. "She’s played tennis for most of her life and played in the Nationals a number of times," he said.
Losacco had a physical trainer who was a former assistant tennis coach at a local college. The trainer agreed to work with Losacco and help him learn how to play tennis.
"I was so bad, he had me hit against a chain link fence for a couple of weeks until I could finally hit a ball," he said. "It was so frustrating. I couldn’t judge the distance and the space. Once I got that down, I really fell in love with the game."
After two months, Losacco began working with a teaching tennis professional at a local tennis club and has taken lessons every week for the last two years. He now plays tennis six to seven days a week.
According to Losacco, one big advantage tennis has over golf is the social aspect. "It (tennis) is so much more social than golf is. It’s co-ed. You can play with men, you can play with women," he said. "It just grows on you. It’s a wonderful activity."
Last year Losacco played in USTA Leagues for the first time as a member of a 3.0 Senior men’s team. "I can’t believe they put me on the court," Losacco said with a hearty laugh. "I don’t think (we) did very well. I was probably part of the reason."
This year, the Missouri Valley Section 3.0 Senior men’s team, with Losacco as captain, won their league to advance to this weekend’s Nationals at the Mission Hills Country Club.
"We just had a great team this year. My 3.0 guys did great. By some miraculous way we won the league and went on," Losacco said. "It feels fantastic."
It was only two weeks ago when Losacco played mixed doubles with his girlfriend for the first time. He was very quick to credit Fitzpatrick for helping his tennis game.
"She’s very encouraging. She’s like a private coach. I can call her up and tell what I’ve done and she will help me out and correct me," he said.
The Missouri Valley Section 3.0 Senior men’s team, which plays out of the Grand Health & Racquet Club in Tulsa, Okla., will face Middle States, Pacific Northwest and Missouri Valley teams in Flight 1.