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Still Going Strong: Coachella’s 70s League

If you think that all seniors retire to the desert for rest and relaxation, playing Gin rummy or lounging at poolside, there are plenty of racquet-wielding tennis enthusiasts who beg to differ. So many, in fact, that USTA Area League Coordinator Donna Ringer has spearheaded a team tennis league for 70-and-over women in Coachella Valley, and the response has exceeded expectations.

“When I started talking to some of my friends who are around 70, they were really interested in playing the 70s (league),” says Ringer. “They liked the idea of playing gals their own age rather than the gals who are 50 and 55.”

The concept is already alive in other sections, including Northern California and Hawaii, but the SoCal version – which plays a bi-level format to mix play levels – is perhaps the largest of the three. “I had no idea I would have so much interest,” Ringer says. “The message I got loud and clear was yes, we want to play and we want a social hour afterwards. So, I set out to create a league with those goals in mind.”

The league wrapped up its inaugural campaign this month, with its March 1 season finale and “Showdown” both won by team Sun Dried Tomatoes. Players rate generally at levels 3.5 and 4.0, comprising four teams of 11-12 players each, playing Thursday afternoons from January to March. Shadow Mountain Resort in Palm Desert hosted the inaugural season, thanks to resort staff including Vicky Parkerson, Caerwyn Evans, Linda Mansoorian, and Michael McFarlane.

Important to the players is the social aspect, when matches conclude and teams convene at the resort’s Top of Court Café for drinks. “It gives them an opportunity to renew old friendships and make new friends,” she says.

Players can expect the league to expand when the second season kicks off.

“We will see how it evolves, but I expect growth,” Ringer predicts, having heard interest expressed from male counterparts of the competing ladies. “When I look around I see many smiles on the faces of the players. They are having fun and they tell me how happy they are to be part of this league.”


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