| By Arlene Griggs

The Carefree 2.5 USTA team [SHIMON] has advanced all the way to the finals at the Sectionals held in Syracuse, N.Y. This was my first experience playing on a winning USTA team, so my immersion was quick, intense and passionate. The period of time between having been selected to represent at the Sectionals to actually playing the matches was concentrated. Realizing that at my age (I am retired), this opportunity was never going to present itself again, so I had to fully explore this life-changing event.

Seven women and a child mascot drove to Syracuse with little knowledge of what this tournament entailed. This was no chick vacation! Having said that, we bonded as teammates and friends. No team could have been more supportive of each other than ours. Lasting friendships were forged, the laughter resounded and tennis matches were won.

By our final match on Sunday, we were tied for first place with the “Lucky Strings” team from Albany, N.Y. Sadly, there was “No joy in Mudville,” as we came in second place after some earnest playing. Perhaps our loss was due to the absence of a cool team name? No Nationals in September for us, but our coach’s 4.5 team will carry on, and we are very proud of them.

What have I learned from this event?

►This was my one golden opportunity, and I’m happy I took advantage of it.
►Road trips don’t physically feel the same as they did back in the 1970s.
►Tennis is still a game where one side wins and the other side loses.
►There is always room for improvement in all areas of competition, such as sportsmanship, fairness, caring about others and performance.
►Anything is possible, considering many of our team members are in the 50 and over category.
►Lastly, I will engage in tennis competition with thoughts of self-improvement, and not anxiety. I know I’m too old for that!

Thank you, Lisa, our coach, for your intensity, support and coaching expertise. Thank you to our captain Marilyn, for your unbelievable organizational skills, constant correspondence and updates, and passion for the game.



Arlene Griggs

<p>Arlene Griggs, an English teacher for 35 years, taught at Grand Avenue Middle School in the Bellmore-Merrick CHSD. She retired two years ago and has been keeping busy playing tennis, teaching Zumba and traveling. She plays at Carefree Tennis in Merrick, N.Y., enjoying the competition, and learning to improve her game. She may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:arteach97@aol.com">arteach97@aol.com</a>.</p>