Mary Lentz and Wendy Schenk
© Andrew Ong
By Kevin Wittner, USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. – A lot can change in 25 years. Parachute pants are no longer in vogue and it’s been a few years since Prince has topped a top 40 chart. However, some things such as Mary Lentz and Wendy Schenk competing at nationals remain the same.
This weekend, the former Middle States teammates from national teams of the mid-80s will square off at the 2009 USTA League 4.5 Senior National Championship.
After growing up in Pennsylvania, Lentz moved to Delaware where she represented the Middle States at national championship events in 1984 and 1985. Years later, she would play for Florida teams that reached nationals in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Eventually, she desired a cooler climate which brought her to Charlotte, N.C., and her current team out of the Southern section.
While the tennis pro of 18 years has had considerable on-court success with her half dozen trips to nationals, nothing has replicated the achievement of winning the 1984 USTA League 4.5 Adult National Championship.
When Lentz arrived at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, she was pleasantly surprised to see her old friend Schenk was not only in town playing for Middle States this weekend, but that the two were paired in the same pool for round robin play.
Although Schenk is still vying for her first national championship, her résumé of 13 trips to nationals, all of which have come as a member of the Middle States, is impressive.
While Schenk now jokes that her 13th appearance at nationals may or may not signal extra luck to deliver her first national title, she’s quick to point out that it is always good to see old friends at the tournaments.
“It’s always great to come here because it’s good to see people you know,” Schenk said. “It’s really a small world, and it’s getting smaller.”
The two old friends are still going strong on the court, despite having to overcome medical adversities. Schenk is coming off of rotator cuff surgery last year and Lentz went under the knife for knee surgery just three months ago.
“As long as I stay healthy,” Lentz says, “I’ll keep playing. I love the team environment. It’s really nice to see the same people throughout the year at these tournaments and it’s something that I really enjoy.”
Given their track records, it would be a wise bet that Lentz and Schenk will be seeing each other at nationals again over the next 25 years.