If there is no rain, snow or ice and it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning, they arrive at Mason Wallace tennis courts to play some serious doubles.
Tom Crehan, 91, a proud Irishman affectionately known as the Commissioner, started the Mason Wallace tennis group some 20 years ago. Now don’t let Crehan’s age fool you. On the court he competes with the intensity of a 50-year-old, serving wicked slices to the backhand or carefully placed shots on the baseline.
He will not be taken for granted.
The backbone of Crehan’s group is folks in their 70s who have battled each other on the courts quite regularly for years. They include Pat Bostic, Herb Richards, Judett Black, and Charlie Jackson. Bostic’s forehand is a thing of beauty, Herb Richards is a master of fierce overheads and accurate unreachable lobs. Then there is the steadiness of Black who can return most any ball sent her way or the Wile E. Coyote antics of Jackson, the self-appointed commentator of action on the court.
“Now that was a dirty play,” Jackson will yell if he views an effective body serve or a ball placed strategically at an opponent’s feet.
Though Mason Wallace tennis is skewed toward retired folks with flexible schedules, it is open to folks at all levels of tennis from beginners to advanced players. While you may see baseball and soccer fields from Monroe Road, tucked in the back of the 30-acre park are 8 tennis courts. It is a mix of ages, sexes, ethnicities, and classes rubbing shoulders together and enjoying a game they all love. There is no dress code. Anyone who shows up is welcome and invited to play.
Play begins when the first four people show up to play. After that, winning partners advance to play other winners; losing partners must sit it out, waiting for another chance to play when winning partners start thinning out.
Two of the groups newest players are Martha Nazemi, a physician in her early seventies, and Gary Miller, 52, an entrepreneur. Nazemi says after she retired, she taught herself to play by using a ball machine. Though Miller is an accomplished player, he practices democracy on the court in his willingness to play with both skilled and less- skilled players alike.
At Mason Wallace, tennis is played year-round. On cold winter days, some players have been known to layer up and wear ski masks so they can stay warm enough to play. They are that serious.
During the summer most players arrive by 9 am, with play continuing until noon.