By Sarah Gulbrandsen, special to USTA.com
The men of the USTA Southern California Adult 40 & Over 3.0 men’s tennis team from the San Gabriel Valley enjoy the physical and mental aspects of the game. There’s a science to staying in top shape, team captain Dr. Angus McRonald explains. Tennis is essential for the physical being of team members after punching the clock at their shifts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
They’re rocket men, defying age much like astronauts do gravity when exploring outer space. The team features NASA employees as well as faculty from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. Most are tasked with finding ways to ensure that spacecraft return to the Earth safely from missions and have been for decades, some being involved with NASA as far back as the 1970s.
Afterwards, they hit the courts.
“We like to call ourselves the ‘Jet Propulsion Laboratory,’” said McRonald, still involved with the agency at 85 years of age. He also encourages astronauts and aerospace engineers to utilize tennis as a way to keep in prime condition as Activity Manager at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astonautics (AIAA).
“Tennis has improved my health and fitness since 1977, when I installed a tennis court in my backyard,” said McRonald, who first played in his first USTA League National Championship event in 1975 and earned his way back for this year's event in Tucson, Ariz.
Figuring angles and spin directions inside the lines is a different sort of science for the players. While they take winning as seriously as any other team here in Tucson, their primary goal is to enjoy a weekend away from the cosmos and have fun on the ground.
“Playing with good people and having a good sense of humor is something that stands out with us,” said team member Rudy Bituin.
“We all enjoy tennis and have a great team spirit,” added McRonald. “It is a way for this team to de-stress from the day to day.”