June Gottleib is a leading lady of SoCal tennis.
© Juan Ocampo
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com
Rancho Mirage, California -- When June Gottleib takes the court, forgive her if she seems to be thinking about a thousand things at once. She probably is.
"She’s the most amazing woman I know," said Deborah Fiddes, her teammate and captain on the SoCal 2.5 Women’s team at the USTA National Championships in Rancho Mirage, CA. "I don’t even know where to start to describe her."
Gottleib is a former psychotherapist, an accomplished actress, poet and playwright who speaks fluent Italian. At a youthful 74, she’s also among the oldest competitors in the event.
"It’s really kind of weird that I’m here playing with all these women in their 30s and 40s," said Gottleib. "My age has never been that big a deal for me, so why should it be a big deal now? At least that’s the way I look at it."
Based in Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, the SoCal team is competing in its first-ever USTA National Championships.
"The original reason we got together was to do something fun and athletic while our daughters were playing soccer," recalled Fiddes. "We needed something to call our own. Now, we have our own team and we’re playing for the national championship! It’s so wonderful."
Most of the team’s members have youth soccer-age daughters, but not Gottleib, who has three grand-children. She’s proud of her status as the oldest player on her team.
"We have a mutual respect for each other," Gottleib said. "The great thing is, none of us had ever played tennis together before, but it wasn’t long before we all jelled as a team."
Gottleib retired about a decade ago after 25 years as a psychotherapist in Ann Arbor, MI. That’s when she relocated to San Diego and, on a whim, decided to pursue acting in commercials.
"I happened to see an ad looking for extras and, luckily for a woman my age, I made about a dozen commercials without knowing what I was doing," said Gottleib. "It sounded like fun and I thought my background would come in handy."
On the court, she’s single-minded about playing her best, no matter the score or what’s on her mind.
"When I find myself not happy with a shot or knowing I could’ve done better, I just resolve to move on to the next shot," she said. "I don’t linger, I don’t dwell. Kind of like life, don’t you think?"