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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Tennis is truly for all ages

Club Green Meadows hosting 70, 80, 90 nationals

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

Regular players on the Portland-area city league tennis circuit, Jean “Sunny” Schiffmann and Jean Hays this week take their tennis to another level.

The local women are two of the six who are scheduled to play in the 90-and-older division during the United States Tennis Association National Women’s 70, 80 and 90 Indoor Championships at Club Green Meadows. Hays, 91, and Schiffmann, 92, are scheduled to play two doubles matches in the round-robin competition. Schiffmann is also one of six women in the 90s singles round-robin tournament.

Schiffmann, who lives in Battle Ground, made her national tournament debut in the 90s singles tournament last year. She lost both matches but did win several games.

“I was so nervous the whole time. I was shaking,” she said. “I was pretty horrified. But I did it.”

Hays, a Portland resident who plays city league tennis for Vancouver Tennis Center, is feeling those same butterflies ahead of her national tournament debut.

“I’m kind of nervous about people watching me play,” Hays said.

Schiffmann has been playing tennis at Club Green Meadows since 1993, when at age 68 she took up the game.

A flight instructor in Southern California, Schiffman and her husband Charles planned to retire in Clark County because there was airspace to continue flying. Her husband died during the move north in 1992. A year later and in search of social opportunities, Schiffmann checked out Club Green Meadows.

“I was here all alone. I didn’t know anybody and I wasn’t exercising,” Schiffmann recalled. “I came to exercise and to have some people to talk to.”

Schiffmann said she would be a better tennis player had she taken lessons sooner, before she developed any bad habits. As a flight instructor, she explained, she knew that the early lessons are the ones that are remembered longest.

Nancy Ansboury, the tennis pro at Club Green Meadows, said Schiffmann’s persistence serves her well in city league play.

“She is best at trying all the time. She never gives up,” Ansboury said.

Schiffmann said she remembers hearing once that “the only important point is the next one.”

Schiffmann plays singles matches at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. on Thursday and at noon on Saturday. She will play a fourth singles match on either Sunday or Monday. She and Hays are scheduled to play the first of two doubles match at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

As she has for two decades, Hays plays tennis four times a week. She also does water aerobics three days a week, walks regularly and is in a Portland bowling league. She and her late husband joined Club Green Meadows when they retired because he was an avid golfer.

Hays said playing city league tennis in her 90s “keeps me young and gives me motivation.”

Tennis is a unique sport in that it allows a 90-year-old to continue to be involved with a team, Hays said, thus providing a welcome social network.

“I love the ladies, love playing with them,” Hays said. “It’s amazing. All of them have different skills and I want to improve to keep up with them.”

Sanja Lemes, a VTC pro who gives Hays private lessons, said that thirst for knowledge makes her a joy to coach.

“She is very tricky and very positive about the game. She always wants to learn the toughest shots. She always looks to get better,” Lemes said.

Hays and Schiffmann have not played as a doubles team, but are looking forward to the competition.

“I think they’re ready,” said Lemes, the VTC pro.

Hays is hoping to make the most of the experience, regardless of the outcomes.

“I just hope we win some games,” she said.

If you go

Event: USTA National Women’s 70, 80 and 90 Indoor Championships.

When: Wednesday through Oct. 4.

Venue: Club Green Meadows, 7703 NE 72nd Ave.

Who: Players from around the country. Local participants include Molly Hall (80s singles), Rosemary Buker (80s doubles), Jean “Sunny” Schiffmann (90s singles and doubles), Jean Hays (90s doubles).

Updates: Tennislink.ustacom. Tournament number 600000716.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter