Years After Military Service, Greene Rediscovers Tennis
October 11, 2018
Natalie Greene spent more than 23 years traveling the world with the United States Military. She never imagined that years after her service concluded, she’d have the chance to travel through tennis.
Greene traveled to San Diego in May to compete in the seventh annual San Diego Wounded Warrior Tennis Camp.
There, she had a week of lessons, practice and competition against wounded veterans, just like her.
“I love playing tennis. I always have,” said Greene, 57. “The camp was great. It was everything I hoped for.”
Greene, who served in the Army and Air Force throughout the years, began playing tennis as a kid and competed in high school and college.
“I came from a military family, but had some tennis connections,” she said. “My father, who also played tennis, was in the military and we only saw him once per year. ADVERTISEMENT But my sister and I played all the time because he played. He had his tennis plaques around the house.”
As life became busier, Greene’s tennis involvement slowed down, and she estimates not touching a racquet since she was about 30. Instead, she was focused on her military career, where she flew as a medevac, later serving as an instructor and examiner.
When she retired from the military, Greene struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some other injuries. She always enjoyed sports, but couldn’t find the activity that fit her post-military life.
Greene became aware of the Wounded Warrior Tennis Camp, run by the San Diego District Tennis Association, which offers free weekly tennis clinics and national tennis camps in collaboration with local veteran hospitals. The camp serves wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans of all ages, from across the country.
Greene applied for a spot, and was accepted.
“I got a chance to meet a lot of people,” she said. “I met lots of veterans with many different types of disabilities. Everyone was very nice and all the instructors were very professional. They took their time with everybody and it didn’t matter what your skillset was. The deal was, when you left, you were ready to play more tennis.”
Greene is certainly ready for that. She’s looking for ways to become more involved in New Jersey, and recently connected with Willingboro Recreation and Parks Department, which runs programming for its local and surrounding communities.
“I’d love to play more tennis, and I really hope to,” Greene said. “Playing a sport – any sport – is great for veterans and anyone who has done service over the years. For me it’s been a lot of fun. I’m thankful for the chance to play at the camp, and also the chance to play more here in New Jersey.”
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