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Monday, 15 October 2007

The Sad Sight of Empty Tennis Courts

By Mort Reichek of Octogenarian

Twenty-two years ago, my wife and I purchased a small, two-bedroom ranch house in a so-called "adult community" named Concordia in central New Jersey. These are communities that are restricted to buyers who are at least 55 years old, but younger spouses are allowed as residents. I was 61 at the time, my wife 56.

During the previous 20 years we had been living in a four-bedroom colonial house in the northern part of the state. Our youngest child had recently moved out of our home, leaving us with the proverbial "empty nest" and a house bigger than we needed.

We decided to buy a smaller, one-story house in an adult community that would relieve us of some of the mundane chores that go with home-owning - lawn mowing, exterior house painting and the like. Moreover, I had begun to plan my retirement and was seeking a place where I could enjoy the leisure time that becomes available in old age.

Concordia fit the bill. The community has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course, six tennis courts, a clubhouse, an exercise room, dozens of clubs and organizations, and some of the amenities of a country club without the formality and expense of country-club life. A hired staff takes care of those mundane home maintenance tasks. A book entitled Every Day is Sunday, published about 20 years ago, provides a sense of what life is like in an "adult community."

I've been an ardent tennis player since I was a teen-ager. I was delighted to discover that there were hordes of fellow tennis enthusiasts in Concordia which meant that I would never lack partners - all geriatric cases like me - with whom to play.

But the community has 1,750 homes and it was quickly obvious that six tennis courts were inadequate to cope with the demand for playing time. After experimenting with various systems in which court time could be equitably allocated, the residents eventually adopted a scheduling plan that has successfully handled the problem. Only doubles can play, as long as no one is waiting to get a court, and playing time for a foursome is limited to an hour and a half.

Except in bad weather, the courts have been regularly packed every morning with men and women enthusiastically whacking tennis balls. Many of them wear braces on aging elbows and knees. But despite the groans of pain as they wearily chase the ball, it has been a happy, noisy scene of old folks at play.

Of late, however, the scene has been changing as the infirmities of old age have begun to afflict the tennis-playing crowd. For example, I have abandoned the game after surgery to replace my right hip and my aortic heart valve. Increasingly, others have also been forced to quit the game because of the ailments that go with geriatric territory.

As a result, there is no longer a problem getting a court. Almost every day, only a handful of players show up. For many of those still eager and able to play tennis, the problem now is to get partners.

The noisy, joyous scene at the Concordia tennis courts has sadly vanished. As I pass the courts during my morning walks, my heart grows heavy with the painful knowledge that a joyful period of my life is gone. Fortunately, however, my blog has replaced my time playing tennis and has become a source of pleasure and satisfaction as tennis used to be.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

This is exactly my reason for joining the blogging world.

Now the world comes in to visit me on days when going out is not possible.

I think that blogging is a wonderful addition to the lives of retirees, and I know it will "save" me when I quit working (if I ever do) LOL

I live in a town house and there are two tennis courts and two swimming pools available. The courts stand empty most of the time and the pools only get a lot of activity when grandchildren visit. It is rather sad that this is the case. But one must replace what is no longer possible and, like you, my computer is my salvation. I do other things, of course, but reading a blog and making new friends there is the best part of my day. Good for you, Mort, for moving on and continuing to enjoy life.

Mort,

Just keep writing and you won't miss tennis so much.
Remember, hundreds of people read your stories on Time Goes By, but only a few watch you play tennis. And exercising your mind (and mine) is just as important as exercising your body.
Keep up the good writing, Mort, and we'll all be happy.

Sigh. I understand. I had to give up tennis 29 years ago. Sometimes I miss it when I see empty courts which I see a lot lately. Don't younguns play anymore? Blogging is good for my soul, however, and has gotten me through some really tough times.

It's nice to meet you, Mort. I hope that blogging will end up beguiling you as did tennis.

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