They aren't Roger Federer or Andy Roddick, but they have a lot of fun.
They are members of the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center Tennis Club. Jim Erickson, who serves on the senior center board and activities committee, helped start the tennis club where any senior center member can join. And anyone 55 and older can be a member of the senior center for $15 a year.
Jim Erickson of East Gull Lake retrieved the ball during a friendly tennis match on the courts at Gregory Park in Brainerd. Erickson plays every Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. as part of the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center Tennis Club that started this summer. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The tennis club meets from 3-5 p.m. every Wednesday at Gregory Park in Brainerd. They started playing in June and will continue until Labor Day. Members pay $20 per season to be in the club.
Erickson said there has been a good turnout on the tennis courts with a good dozen who come to play. The center reserves three courts at the park.
"This is a great activity to help keep seniors active physically and mentally," said Erickson. "It also helps seniors with their balance."
Erickson said it's also an outdoor activity for seniors to enjoy. He said most of the activities the senior center hosts are indoor activities so tennis is a nice addition.
Deanna Magnuson focused on the ball on the courts at Gregory Park. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Erickson has been playing tennis for 15-20 years. He plays a couple times a week at Cragun's Conference and Golf Resort during the off-season when the outdoor tennis courts are closed. He also plays at the East Gull Lake city tennis courts a few days a week during the summer.
"I like tennis because of the camaraderie, the exercise and the challenge of the game," said Erickson. "I also love to watch the pros. Roger Federer is my favorite to watch."
Bob Hunstad, 69, who spends most of his time at his retirement place on Gull Lake, but also lives in Eagan, has played tennis for 35 years and enjoys his Wednesday afternoons at Gregory Park.
Ted Greer of Baxter walloped a return during a tennis match on the courts at Gregory Park in Brainerd. Greer plays tennis as part of the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center Tennis Club. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"It's great exercise and when you have compatible players it's fun," said Hunstad on the game. "I run after the ball a lot. I'd say I'm a 3.5 player. A pro is 7."
Ted Greer, 85, Baxter, said he has been playing tennis since he was in his middle ages. Greer was a tennis coach at Edina High School years ago and he also was a hockey player in college.
"I play whenever I can," said Greer. "My family plays."
Greer and Hunstad said they both played in the Men's Open for a few years at Grand View Lodge.
Rick Anderson, Brainerd, was a guest tennis player at one of the Wednesday outings in late June and he played with Erickson, Hunstad and Greer. Anderson, 61, said the other players call him "the kid" because of his age.
"I like to play when it's hot," said Anderson. "I've been playing tennis for 15-20 years. In the winter I stay in Florida and I play tennis about three to four times a week. I love the camaraderie of it. Everyone on the court has a personality ...We have a good time."
As Anderson made that comment, Erickson chimed in and said, "He never knows where the ball is going."
Tom Mattraw played tennis at Gregory Park. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Playing in another court was Antje Olson, 82, and Helga Fleischhacker, 67, both lakes area residents who came from Germany. Fleischhacker never played tennis before and Olson learned when she was about 60.
Olson said she was around tennis through her husband, Ed Olson, much earlier, however. Olson said her husband was a national tennis player champion after World War II and he was a tennis coach at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. She said her husband donated the courts to the college and they named the courts after him.
Olson said she and her husband would play every Friday night when they lived in the Twin Cities.
"I haven't played in 10 years and then this tennis club started out so I thought I'd play," said Olson. "I enjoy it, it's a good sport."
Olson was teaching Fleischhacker the basics on how to play tennis since it was her first time. She taught her where to play when playing singles, where to stand when serving and how to serve.
"I thought I'd try this," said Fleischhacker. "We have a lot of fun. It's good exercise."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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