By Kevin Wittner
TUCSON, Ariz. – Julianne
and Gordon Haller
began playing tennis 21 years ago. The couple from Boise, Idaho, would take their toddler Kaitlyn to the nursery and daycare at the club while they played. Today, as the Intermountain section captain, Kaitlyn
leads her mother and father at the 6.0 Adult Mixed Doubles USTA League National Championships.
As a basketball, track and soccer athlete growing up, Kaitlyn refused to play tennis with her parents, saying sheepishly, "I never really played with them growing up because I didn’t really think it was a sport."
After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Kaitlyn returned home to Boise and realized the err in her ways.
"In college, I played intramural soccer and other sports, and when I came back I didn’t have any sports teams to play on," Kaitlyn said. "It was a lot easier to play tennis and get a person to go hit with than play soccer. Tennis is just convenient and fun.
"So, I wanted to make a team, and I conned (my parents) into playing with me," Kaitlyn laughed.
Julianne, a 3.5 player in her second nationals, after having reached the USTA League’s highest tournament about 10 years ago teases about Kaitlyn’s captaincy.
"She doesn’t always give us what we want," Julianne jokes. "But she came home and said about a year ago that she wanted to play with her daddy on a team."
That gave Gordon, an engineer who played in the 7.0 Mixed Doubles championships last week, a new doubles partner.
"The USTA has been a blast," Gordon said. "From the player party with the DJ and the dancing, and out on the courts – everyone’s attitude has been great. It’s been a real fun time being down here."
As for making it to nationals after her first year of playing tennis, Kaitlyn laughs that she "might retire after this."
Asked if she’s learned anything through this ordeal, Kaitlyn says, "Yes, tennis is a sport now."
Apparently, it is a sport the whole family can enjoy. The Hallers do.
2010 USTA League 6.0, 8.0 & 10.0 Mixed National Championships