From beginning her tennis career at age five to becoming a tennis ambassador, Jennifer Sauld has spent many long hours on the court. Through the sport, Sauld's community has grown immensely, leaving her wondering how she ever spent any time away from the game.
We were able to catch up with the Michigan native to see how becoming a tennis ambassador has reinforced her passion for tennis.
Q: HOW DID YOU START PLAYING TENNIS? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
A: I started playing tennis when I was five years old in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Iron Mountain). My two older brothers also played tennis. I had an amazing tennis coach (Phyllis Laurila) since I was five years old all the way through high school. She cultivated an amazing tennis community where we spent our summers on the courts together. There are many things I remember from her coaching that I apply today. More than our win/loss record, the memories we made on and off the court is what I remember most - so many great stories and laughs!
These are some of my best childhood memories. Unfortunately, after graduating from high school, I stopped playing tennis and didn't pick it up again until about six years ago. This is one of my biggest regrets; I wish I never would have stopped playing! There didn’t seem to be the USTA programs available that are available today when I graduated from high school, so I love how the USTA has grown its programs to keep players in the game for a lifetime.
I have three children, two girls (Erika, age 14, Kate, age 8) and one boy (Michael, age 7). I am primarily a stay-at-home mom. But, I also work part-time in concierge at Liberty Athletic Club in Ann Arbor. This is also where I play tennis. I spend so much time at Liberty both on and off the court, so why not work there too! Plus, this allows me to interact with current and potential players more often.
Q: HOW HAS TENNIS IMPACTED YOUR LIFE POSITIVELY?
A: When I finally picked up the racquet again about six years ago, my life changed. Not only was I getting great exercise doing something I love, but I've met the most amazing people. My tennis community has become my extended family. I've established so many great friendships of all ages and backgrounds. I love that my children also play tennis, and it is something I will be able to enjoy with them for many years to come! One of my favorite weekly activities is a lesson I take with my 14-year-old daughter, Erika. The one person I need to get on the court more often in my family is my husband!
Q: WHAT ARE TACTICS YOU USE AS AN AMBASSADOR TO HELP SPREAD AWARENESS OF THE GAME?
A: Face-to-face interactions is what I do most-at work, on the courts, my children's school, neighborhood friends. Anytime, anywhere I can share how tennis has positively impacted my life, I do! Facebook has also been a great way, as so many people see the fun we are having and want to be a part of it.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING TENNIS BUT STILL ON THE FENCE?
A: Pick up the racquet! I promise you won’t regret it! The community you will become a part of is worth it.
Q: WHY DO YOU THINK TENNIS IS AN IMPORTANT SPORT TO PROMOTE?
A: The physical benefits are obvious, but the social benefits are invaluable.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TENNIS MEMORY?
A: Tennis getaways with girlfriends and weekends for USTA playoffs are some of my favorite memories over the last six years. More than the tennis, it’s the time spent together and the memories created that I will never forget. But, one of my all time favorite memories is taking my daughter to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. We went with a group of friends from Ann Arbor. Of course we saw amazing tennis, but the laughter and memories with my daughter is what I will always remember and cherish.
Q: HOW HAS TENNIS HELPED YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE?
A: Tennis has expanded my social network in Ann Arbor, and many of my tennis friends are my closest friends. It's really my extended family; they are not only part of my life, but my children's lives, too. I know I can always count on them to be there for me and my family.