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Players return to the courts

Members of the Park Rapids Tennis Association are back in full force at the Depot Courts.

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Phil Sailer focused on returning a shot during a recent doubles match at the Depot Courts. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Members of the Park Rapids Tennis Association are proving that you can enjoy playing tennis at any age.

With tennis deemed a low-risk sport during the COVID-19 pandemic, players (including two 89-year-olds) have been serving aces and returning winners at the Depot Courts since May. A women’s league plays every Monday and Wednesday morning while a doubles league meets on Tuesday and Thursday mornings starting at 9 a.m. There are always four courts full of players with the women’s league taking the game a little more seriously while the doubles league focuses on having fun instead of remaining on the winners’ side of the courts.

“This is a fun group. We like to win, but we don’t take it too seriously,” said Lois Nordman, a USPTA tennis professional who has played the game for more than 50 years and has taught tennis lessons for the past 40 years. “I play for the love of the game and I try to grow the game of tennis.”

Mike Fite and Haakon Vaadeland are other long-time tennis players. Fite has played the game for 35 years while Vaadeland picked up the game about 20 years ago and can be found at the Depot Courts five days a week.

“I play for the exercise and the brotherhood,” said Fite.

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“I play for the competition and the people,” said Vaadeland. “Some of the nicest people I know play tennis. We’re like a family here.”

Phil Sailer and Steph Hanson are on the other side of the tennis spectrum. Sailer started playing with the doubles group last summer while Hanson picked up a racket for the first time this summer.

“It’s good exercise and I enjoy the camaraderie,” said Sailer. “We don’t take it too seriously. It’s a lot of fun.”

“I started playing for the exercise and to get back in shape,” said Hanson, who has Nordman as her instructor. “I’m not coaching volleyball anymore, so I have my summers off. I wanted to learn the game and not just play it, so I started taking lessons from Lois. The lessons have really helped me. I really enjoy it. This group is so amazing. They welcomed me in and have been very patient with me. I love this game.”

Each summer, the PRTA has between 50 and 70 active members. Players interested in joining the association or who just want to play in a group should bring a racket and show up at the Depot Courts.

“We welcome players of all abilities,” said Nordman. “Tennis is a fun game you can play your whole life.”

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Related Topics: TENNIS
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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