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Net gains (and a lot of laughs)

August 26, 2011 - Neil Rudel
"Why don't you blog about the tennis season?" was the request.

It seemed reasonable enough, even if it did come from tennis mentor/nemesis Larry McAleer.

Pro Care was very successful in breathing new life into its outdoor tennis facilities. Thanks to Pro Care management (J. Foreman, C. Kopac and M. Stopp), and particularly Paul Kopac's organization, match making and enthusiasm, a league called "40 somethings," was assembled in May, and play continues through the summer.

Outdoor tennis on har-tru surface is my preference because it's slower, somewhat negating the power players and allowing guys like me not to be aced (too often) and to at least get to the ball.

The league featured many of the top veteran players in town. The unofficial Kopac Division (P. Kopac, Cardone, B. Irwin, Dr. Nadr, Strueber, T. Rea, Schultz, Simon, Baker, D. Andrews) included a welcome influx of young studs (B. Van Buren, former PIAA champ Bobby Morris, S. Andrews) while the McAleer Division had types like me, Pennington, Donaldson, Sheetz, JVB, Lafferty, Savine, Gregory, DeHaven and Bill "Taz" Anthony.

My brother-in-law, Tom DeLeo, even when being overruled on line calls by his partner (Mike Irwin), could play in either the Kopac or McAleer Divisions. Ditto Fries, Conway, Bovard, Adams, Lynn, Barry D. and C. Kopac.

Play took place on Wednesday nights and Saturday and Sunday mornings, and in addition to the laughs and post-game parties, there was a bond among the participants. Special recognition goes out to our most senior member, Dr. Osgood who, at 70-something, can definitely still hit it back. Never mind that he didn't always sign the book.

Unfortunately, my season was rudely interrupted by an unexpected gallbladder attack, shelving me for the next couple of weeks. And it came just as I was attempting to get to .500.

Most people play tennis for the workout and the camaraderie. At least that's what Pat Dandrea, unfortunately recovering from summer surgery on and the DL until recently, has emphasized. Not so, I'm instructed by Capt. McAleer, whose Swogger-like mentality says, "the fun is in winning. I don't look like a tennis player, but all I do is win."

That may explain why I was 4-0 with McAleer and 0-7 against him ... and eager (since it's more fun to play against him and lose than with him and win) for another shot. But since I was groomed that winning matters, I kept a chart and finished 43-44.

As I've said many times, the tennis community here is extremely fortunate to have such great facilities. Name another town our size that, in addition to the har-tru at Pro Care, has two indoor facilities (Pro Care, Summit), not to mention the wonderful option in Ebensburg, just 25 minutes away.

I'm already looking forward to next summer.

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