Maureen Mars with her 3.5 Adult team.
Maureen Mars, 50, of Carbondale, Colo., became a USTA League Captain when the captains of her team at the time were unable to continue and the rest of the team nominated her to take over, which she did and kept the team alive. She loved being a captain right away and has a close-knit 3.5 Adult team that first met in a tennis class back in 2004. Playing tennis in that part of the country has its challenges, as the team frequently shovels snow on its public courts to allow them to play during the winter, and has to travel 20 minutes away to Aspen to play its matches, as there are not enough courts in their area to host a match. Mars is also married and is a mother to three children, Nathan, 23, Brittany, 21 and Elise, 17. Her husband Dave is an active cyclist and Brittany competes on a 3.0 USTA League team.
For her dedication and commitment to the game, Mars has been named the USTA League Captain of the Month for August.
USTA.com: What teams are you captain of/have you been captain of?
Maureen Mars: I am a 3.5 Adult team captain. I think it has been four years, we were 3.0 at first. We never had a 2.5 team; we basically just jumped into 3.0. Our team is The Meadows, we play on a court up in Aspen, which is about 20 miles away, and it is quite different than most tennis clubs. We play at the Aspen Meadows Resort as our home court when we play our matches.
USTA.com: How did you start playing tennis?
Maureen Mars: I grew up in a family that loved tennis and played tennis but I was the one who didn’t. I played soccer. I didn’t actually start getting serious about tennis or playing regularly until 2004 or 2005 when I joined a college class. Colorado Mountain College has a class and that is how our team met. We started showing up to the same college class, two times a summer and our instructor said, ‘You guys should just form a team.’ We said ‘What? They have them?’ So we formed a team and we have been together ever since. Our team really started in 2006 and it is the same team today basically. The gals on the team, we all know each other really well, we are great friends on and off the court. It was 2004 that I started the class, and in 2006, we actually decided we will be a USTA team. I was not the captain at first.
USTA.com: How did you become captain of the team? Did you enjoy it right away?
Maureen Mars: We were at a team practice one day, the two women who were originally were captains, said they were getting busy and couldn’t do it anymore and somebody raised her hand and said ‘I nominate Mo’ (that’s what they call me) and I said ok. I enjoy it, it is a lot of fun, a great group of girls, they make my job easy. I loved it right away, I was fine with it. We have a coach that helps all the time, she is the one I go to if I have a question. That is really great. I was a little hesitant at first but I do really love it so that is why I have kept doing it.
USTA.com: Why do you love tennis?
Maureen Mars: I love it because it is something you can play at my age. I couldn’t get out there on a soccer field, I don’t even know if they have teams for people my age. I like it because it is all ages. We have somebody who is in her 30s; we have someone in her 70s. She was a professional ballerina; no one believes she is that age. Our girls, they are skiers, some teach aerobics, everybody is very active out here. It is amazing and it is just a really neat, fun group. Where else can you get something like that? A mix of people that I probably would never have hung out with if it was not for tennis. I love being able to compete, and I love meeting all the different people in the area that play tennis, it hopes open your social circle as well.
We have gone to the US Open together. It was our only trip to the US Open, we did that several years ago and it was my first time going to a real professional match. We have gone to Indian Wells together, for my 50th birthday this year; a big group of us went. It was a fun trip and an amazingly fun time. We travel together and do different things. It is not just playing matches.
USTA.com: Have you ever been to the National Championships?
Maureen Mars: We have been to districts. We have been there twice, we went last fall and we went in 2008. It is always just a fun, fun experience.
USTA.com: What makes tennis and playing USTA Leagues so unique in your area?
Maureen Mars: I think what is unique to our area is we all play on the public courts here. We have no winter tennis, so we can only play in the summer and a lot of the teams we play against play in the winter. Our girls, we are so dedicated that we get out in the winter and we shovel snow off the courts and then we play. If it hits 40 degrees, we say it is ok to go. We have gloves on, we always tease each other. It is such a dedicated group of ladies, who want to be together and play tennis that we will shovel the courts so we can play together. We don’t play matches here though, there are only four public courts here and we need five courts to play matches, which is why we play matches in Aspen. We like to all be together, so we go and rent the courts in Aspen.
We shovel the courts when you know you have a span of no snow for a few days. It is crazy. It is unique our area. I have a sister who plays in Colorado Springs and they have their clubs there. It is different how we run our clubs. For most people it is just word of mouth. It is different than most places. The mountains of Colorado are kind of interesting to get a tennis team together.
USTA.com: Do your husband and children play tennis as well?
Maureen Mars: My husband, Dave, is a big cyclist. He has his sport, I have mine. My daughter, Brittany, in college now plays on a 3.0 Adult USTA League team. She is picking it up but I am really the one with the passion. I help teach kids’ tennis classes, I assist teaching the little kids with the coach we have, she teaches the kids’ program and needed help. One of the gals on my team and I also were trying to get a high school tennis team in, so we have a high school tennis club going at our public courts. We do stuff outside our team. We help them and organize them and get them out playing.
USTA.com: Who is your favorite tennis player?
Maureen Mars: Rafael Nadal.
USTA.com: What is your favorite surface to play on?
Maureen Mars: Definitely a hard court surface. I like the speed of the ball and this is the surface we practice on.
USTA.com: What kind of racquet do you use?
Maureen Mars: Babolat Aero Pro Drive
USTA.com: What is your favorite tennis tournament and why?
Maureen Mars: I really enjoy participating in the Steamboat Springs Colorado tournament. They have one of the best public tennis centers in the Colorado Mountain area, great courts, nice setting and a good turnout. It's a fun town and always makes for a fun weekend win or lose!
USTA.com: What is the best part of your tennis game?
Maureen Mars: Probably my forehand although I'm really working on my net play more and am enjoying the net so much more.
USTA.com: If you could choose any doubles partner, who would it be?
Maureen Mars: I would choose my coach Nancy Simpson as I know she could get to anything I couldn't! No really, I would be honored to play with any one of my teammates and as a singles player during the season I look forward to entering tournaments so I can take this opportunity.
USTA.com: What is the best aspect of playing USTA League tennis?
Maureen Mars: The best aspect has to be meeting and getting to know all the other tennis players throughout our valley. I often exchange numbers with opposing team members to play outside of league play. It has opened up a network of friends who share in my passion for the game.
USTA.com: If you could attend one Grand Slam tournament, what would it be and why?
Maureen Mars: I would choose the French Open. It would be fun to watch the clay court matches and I have always wanted to visit France.