Veterans Day Spotlight: Chuck Harnden
Players and opponents in the Central Pa. tennis community say Chuck Harnden has great sportsmanship and perspective.
He can pinpoint almost exactly where that mentality came from: his time as a Recon Team Leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.
“I promised myself that if I ever made it home, I would always be grateful for what I have and never complain,” Harnden said. “I carry that over into my tennis and captaining teams.”
His outlook is most certainly noticed in the community. Since beginning to captain USTA League teams four decades ago, Harnden’s players have called him fun, fair and great to play with. They call him a friend and praise him for the tennis community he’s helped build in Hershey, Pa. and beyond.
"I have wonderful friends on my teams, through the tennis community and throughout Middle States,” he said. “Win or lose, we always have a blast.”
From a military and tennis perspective, Harnden followed the footsteps of his father. His father was a Navy Captain serving in World War II, and a high-level tennis player in his own right, winning two NCAA Championships at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Harnden quickly took after his dad, beginning to play at 12 years old. He competed at Hershey High School and then in college — again — at UNC.
Tennis has been a big part of Harnden's life & family over the years, and he shows no signs of slowing down. His favorite part about the game?
“The personal relationships and friends,” he said. “My wife is a very good player and we enjoy playing together in the leagues. Most all our friends are tennis players. What I enjoy most now is seeing all the other people on the team having fun with tennis.”
“The most important relationship I have made is with my terrific wife,” he added. “We met many years ago playing tennis. All of our kids play tennis and it's terrific playing in mixed leagues with my daughters.”