Tennis: A Love Story

Will and Fran Friedlander

Fran Friedlander

In Fall 2021 we arrived in SaddleBrooke from Boston. The pandemic was responsible for us taking the plunge to move to the Southwest. Had it not been for the horror of the pandemic, we would still be suffering the cold and dreary months of New England. A silver lining? For us, definitely. For so many others, tragic consequences.

We bought our home online, knew little about this community, and pulled up on Nov. 16, 2021, to be greeted by a family of eight deer. It was an omen.

I had been accustomed to exercising four days a week at a gym; walking my dog on long, forested trails; and doing a lot of sitting by our fire to stay warm. None of these was a possibility in SaddleBrooke. I told my husband, “I think I’ll try tennis.”

I bought some used rackets and took a lesson. From there, I tried a clinic that some women in the “hood” organized. I showed up completely terrified. What was I doing joining a clinic of tennis players, and I could barely hold a racket? I had no clue what volley, “watch the ball,” “you were looking at your spot,” ground stroke, lob, etc., meant! At the end, a lovely woman invited me to play with her group on Wednesday. I knew she was being totally gracious and welcoming. I arrived, racket in trembling hands. I honestly don’t know where I got the courage to battle my insecurities around competition or not being capable! I joined these gracious ladies all summer and then joined the club.

I found myself completely enthralled. I loved hitting the ball and running around. It would be quite a while before I really began to understand the fundamentals of play. Tennis affords us a physical, technical, and intellectual challenge. It engages all our attention and demands us to think and do simultaneously. Doubles requires that we do that in a partnership, a dance.

Two years later, I am wholly addicted. I still get butterflies in my stomach each time I make my way to the courts. I have been aware of how much I have developed and, more significantly, how infinite the development for this game is.

I am sharing this in hopes of encouraging others who have not tried tennis, or perhaps something else, that it is truly never too late. In fact, trying something so challenging in my 60s has helped me to realize that stimulation and challenge are vital for my well-being.

I want to end this by saying that as much as I have devoted and will continue to invest in my game, the best part is all the incredible friendships I have developed. It has enabled me to have a sisterhood (sometimes brotherhood) that keeps me laughing, exercising, engaging, empathic, inspired, and connected. I love my friends, and I thank the gift of tennis for that!