© Juan Ocampo/USTA
By Carrie Rupp
Retirement Community Unites Active Seniors
The women’s team from Tucson, Ariz., may call themselves “a bunch of old ladies,” but their performance in their first match of the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler 3.0 Senior National Championship proved just the opposite.
“We are just so excited to be here, and even more excited that we won our first match,” team member JoAnne Blatt said Friday morning. “We played a great team from Texas that we really thought was going to blow us out of the water; but we won!”
The ladies from Tucson didn’t have too far to travel to compete in this year’s National Championship in Las Vegas, about a 300-mile trip, but the women would have traveled even farther to compete in the tournament in which they’ve so anxiously awaited to compete.
The team, which represents Sun City Vistoso, a retirement community in Tucson, was founded in 1994. Two of the team’s founding members are still competing, as are four members who have been on the team for 11 years. Since 1994, the team has attended their Section tournament five times – 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2008 – but this is the first time the team has reached the pinnacle – the National Championship.
Reaching the National Championship is even sweeter for this year’s group of women as their team, which includes community members who hail from nine different states, have molded into a supportive unit in their “second life” – a phrase the team uses to describe life after retirement – life in Sun City Vistoso.
“It’s just a beautiful place to live, it’s a lot of fun – like a small town,” Blatt said.
The community, located at the foothills of the Catalina Mountains contains about 2,500 homes. In addition to the location, and gorgeous scenery, the community’s emphasis on active lifestyle was a major selling point to Blatt and team captain Karen Lee.
“It’s just a very active place. They offer more than 100 different activates for residents, including, golf, swimming, biking, as well as indoor activities like bridge, poker, and sewing clubs,” Lee said. “We have an Olympic sized swimming pool and a workout facility which is constantly being used.”
Although some of the team members have spent a great deal of time on the court during their “first and second lives,” some only started playing tennis when they relocated to the retirement community. Lee began playing tennis in 2003 when she and her husband moved to the Sun City Vistoso after falling in love with it during a visit to Lee’s brother, a resident.
“I play tennis because I enjoy the people I play with,” Lee said.
“I just love to play tennis and to be with a group like this on a team, it keeps you playing three times a week and you really feel like you’ve got to do it for your teammates.”
With an average age of 71, this “bunch of old ladies” is hoping to come together this weekend and bring a victory back to their little community in Tucson, Ariz., that gave them “a second life.”
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