Originally created 11/04/04

Tennis league tries to lure players back



Tennis started calling June Peel's name shortly after she retired four years ago.

The Evans resident wanted something to keep her busy, so when a friend invited her to a tennis program, Peel tagged along.

"I was hooked from the get-go," she said.

Peel, 54, has become so involved in tennis that now she is the novice league coordinator for the CSRA Tennis Association. It is that role that has her promoting a local endeavor similar to the one that got her involved in tennis.

The local tennis association, the United States Tennis Association and the International Council on Active Aging have teamed up to present Saturday's Welcome Back to Tennis Party. The Petersburg Racquet Club Tennis Center will play host to the party from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The party is for the 50-and-older crowd, and its goal is to hook others just like Peel was hooked two years ago. Tennis pros from the area clubs will run the participants through drills for about an hour, and those who want to continue to play will be able to sign up for lessons at a reduced rate.

The CSRATA has a competitive and a club league for people over 50.

"You can be as busy as you want in this league," Peel said.

Peel plays every day and said tennis is a good way for seniors to remain active both physically and socially.

"I figure I eat every day, I should exercise every day," Peel said. "This is a fun way to do it."

The senior league isn't limited to those in their 50s. There are women who play at Petersburg who are in their 70s.

Betty Davis, 79, and Irene Shepard, 76, play regularly at the club. Davis was always active in sports growing up and picked up tennis again 17 years ago. Shepard started playing tennis about 55 years ago and until recently was competing regularly on the national seniors tennis circuit.

"When I'm out there I feel like I'm 45," said Shepard, who finished 2003 ranked eighth in the nation in women's 75 singles by the USTA.

Davis has a message for any seniors who think they're too old to play tennis.

"I think it's the best thing in the world for them, instead of sitting home getting fat," she said.

For more information or to register for the event, call (706) 860-9288.

KICKBOXING: Zack Day of Martinez will fight Anthony Bartinelli of Phoenix at 7 p.m. Saturday in Simpsonville, S.C.

Day is ranked No. 7 in the International Kickboxing Federation's middleweight division, while Bartinelli is the reigning light middleweight world champion.

Day, 40, is confident going into the fight despite Bartinelli's 12-0 record and 11 knockouts.

"He will be unpleasantly surprised at the results of this fight," Day said.

SOCCER: The Augusta Arsenal under-13 Gunners boys team will play the Norcross Fury Gold at noon Saturday at the Augusta Soccer Park. The Gunners (8-0) and Norcross (7-0-1) are playing for the fall season championship in the Georgia Soccer's Classic I division.

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: The Atlanta Xplosion, a women's full-contact football team entering its third season, will hold a tryout Nov. 6 at Campbell High School in Marietta, Ga. The tryout begins at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. For more information, go to www.atlantaxplosion.com.

Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3216 or kristy.shonka@augustachronicle.com.