Once you’re over the hill,” Arthur Schopenhauer said, “you begin to pick up speed.”
This could be interpreted a couple of very different ways. Perhaps the German philosopher’s contention was the aging process itself grows faster with age.
Then again, some elders simply hit the accelerator when they hit their golden years, as does the crowd that gathers on most weekday mornings at Wilson Park in Carrboro for fun, fellowship, and a bit of feisty tennis competition.
“I just won a close bocce ball game out where I live at Carolina Meadows this morning,” said David Duddles, 86, as he arrived at the courts. “Now I’m all fired up.”
It was that spirit and that crowd that Carrboro Recreation and Parks chose to celebrate with “Senior Tennis Day” snacks and prizes last Wednesday at Wilson Park.
Carrboro Recreation event coordinator John Cooper said that recreation supervisor Dana Hughes had scheduled the extra goodies for event.
“I think they usually do this pretty much on their own,” Cooper said, “But it was a way to encourage more people to come out and get a sense that the department was behind them.”
The event invited players aged 50 and above to come and meet other tennis players from the area, join in a game of doubles, play with lots of different people, and win prizes.
Though many of the senior “regulars” were on hand, others were also off on their final summer vacations, enjoying beach breezes or cool North Carolina mountain mornings.
“We’ve got about 30 people on the (email list),” Ken Samuelson, 85, said. “You never know who’s going to be here, although there are some regulars.
“If we have a beautiful spring or fall day, everybody comes. We been so crowded that all four courts out here were filled with people waiting to play.”
Hot and humid elements did little to deter 80-year-old Betty James, the unofficial organizer of the senior tennis meet-ups.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to sweat like this going shopping, but out here it’s okay,” James said. “And we also play here when it’s 32 degrees. I’d just like to have a little of that weather now.”
“I grew up a farming,” Duddles said. “You worked from dawn ‘til dark, and you had to be tough in all kinds of weather.
“Plus, I have the advantage that I’m the only one out here with a solar-powered racquet that has sensors that determine the speed of the ball and automatically adjusts string tension.”
“… and if you believe that,” quipped Samuelson, chuckling.
The youngest in the crowd this past Wednesday was Shau-Hong Toscano, a spry 60 years old.
“About 10 years ago, I was taking a basic tennis course in Chapel Hill, and the coach was giving me such a hard time because I couldn’t play and I couldn’t hit,” she explained. “But this other group was playing over at the courts at Ephesus (Elementary School), and they told me that they’d teach me how to play.”
Toscano said she has done her best to meet with the group ever since: “I work, but when I’m not working, I try to come out.”
James said all seniors are welcome, but those with a bit of tennis experience might feel more comfortable.
“I would say to take lessons through the (Carrboro Recreation and Parks) department, and then come out and play with us,” James said. “They need to not be beginners. If you’ve played in the past, it’s fine though.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Carrboro will host another Senior Tennis Day at Wilson Park for players 50 and above. Light refreshments will again be provided to all participants. Those interested are asked to bring a racquet if they have one, though some loaners will be available.
Also, Carrboro will co-host a Tennis Play Day with the Durham-Orange Community Tennis Association on Saturday, Sept. 17 (9-11 a.m.) at Wilson Park. Participants will learn tennis skills and be able to test those skills in games and challenges. This event will have activities for the oldest and youngest family members, so everyone’s welcome. Tennis experience is not necessary.
For more information on Carrboro Recreation and Park’s tennis instruction programs for both youths and adults or their intermediate lunchtime series, call the agency at 919-918-7364.