Tennis opportunities abound for older adults

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

July 11, 2004|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

A LITTLE dab of this and a little gob of that:

TENNIS: If you're part of the graying of Howard County, the chances of finding a competitive match have improved with some tinkering of eligibility for the older age groups.

Participation in team tennis everywhere drops off as players age, muscles stiffen and other interests and needs arise. So the U.S. Tennis Association, ever anxious to encourage participation, has lowered age requirements for play in its team leagues.

Senior leagues are now for those 50 and older. (It used to be 55). Super Seniors are for those 60 and up. (It used to be 65). And USTA has created a new group, the Super 70s, for those older than that. (Don't scoff. This county has a few men in their 80s still playing softball regularly, so why not tennis?)

Clarksville's Jim Lawson, who administers team tennis locally, said the Columbia Park and Recreation Association's adult leagues total about 1,000 players. There are 11 senior teams, typically with 10 or 11 players apiece.

Older than that, however, interest is so low locally that the few competitors Lawson knows play on teams in Montgomery County. But those teams play some matches in Columbia, at the Hobbit's Glen courts, which seniors favor because of its forgiving Har-Tru surfaces. And Lawson's open to hearing from other seniors who would like to play. Check at any Columbia Association tennis facility.

MORE TENNIS: The 24th annual Columbia Junior Open Tennis Tournament will be conducted July 19-22 at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club. Despite its name and origin, the tournament in recent years has attracted a decreasing number of Howard County competitors.

PARTICIPATION: If you define sports broadly, and we do, you'll find it fun to chew on a few of the numbers from this year's SGMA International analysis of American participation last year.

Note that SGMA International's data liberally defines participation, meaning one takes part in a given activity only a few times a year.

The sport with the most participants? The trade group said it's bowling, with 55 million participants age 6 or older.

Fitness-related activities took 12 of the top 30 spots. A sampling: treadmill exercise (45.6 million), stretching (42.2 million), running/jogging (36.2 million), dumbbells (30.5 million), weight-resistance machines (30 million), hand weights (29.7 million) and abdominal exercisers (17.4 million).

Other activities: billiards (40.8 million), basketball (35.4 million), golf (27.3 million), darts (19.5 million), tennis (17.3 million), rifle target shooting (15.2 million), touch football (14.1 million), volleyball on a hard surface (11 million) and baseball (10.9 million).

BASKETBALL: The Maryland Sure Shots 13-and-under boys basketball team, made up of players from Ellicott City, Clarksville and Columbia, reached the elite eight in the Amateur Athletic Union Division II National Boys Basketball Championship this month.

The Sure Shots, said coach Attilio Campanaro, beat teams from Connecticut, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in pool play, then beat a team from host Memphis, Tenn., and another from Houston, Texas, before being eliminated by a Michigan side.

Players were Michael Campanaro, Derek Coleman, Zach Dancel, Leron Eaddy, Brian Eads, Leon Kinnard, Jimmy Mundy, Stefan Pearson and C.J. Townes.

RUGBY: The Rocky Gorge men's rugby club, which plays out of Laurel and includes a number of Howard County residents, is holding its annual summer tournament Saturday at several fields.

More than 30 teams - men's, women's and youth - from the East Coast and at least one from Jamaica are to take part, said Brian Bassett, a club spokesman. That means about 300 players.

This is one of four Mid-Atlantic tournaments, Bassett said, that will serve as a qualifier for participation in national playoffs later this year.

For directions or more info on the free event, call Rick Kilbourne, 410-960-9675, or check www.rockygorgerugby.com.

Want to share stuff about summertime sports competition? Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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