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Tennis, everyone

Story and pictures by May Eynon

The Aspen Golf & Tennis Club, operated by the city of Aspen, has met with much success since opening a couple of years ago. The Aspen Tennis Club has six clay courts along the golf course, adjacent to Highway 82 (as well as two open-air courts at the Aspen Recreation Center complex). Open to the public, the courts can also be reserved for private parties or functions.

Special clinics, lessons, camps and tournaments are offered throughout the summer for children and adults of all abilities. A highlight of the season is the free clinic hosted by Chris Evert, which was initiated last summer and repeated this month. For longtime fans of the part-time Aspen resident, affectionately known as “Chrissie,” it was a golden opportunity to enjoy a game we’ve seen her expertly play for years. According to Aspen Tennis Club director Sherril Kerr, Evert has always been an ardent supporter of public courts, having been introduced to the sport on city courts in her native Florida. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Evert was playing tennis by the time she was 5 years old. Her father was the local teaching pro at the city courts, where she and her siblings would hit together and compete against one another. Throughout her luminous career, Evert won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and a record seven French championships before retiring from competitive play in 1989. In 1995, Evert was the fourth player ever to be unanimously elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Among her greatest achievements is her .900 winning percentage – still the best in pro tennis history, male or female.

Assisted by Aspen Tennis Club pros, Chris and her sister, Clare Evert-Shane of Aspen, brought their expertise to the public courts on Monday, Aug. 2. Approximately 50 adults and 40 kids came out for the evening of instruction, ranging in age from 6 to 75 years old. Also on hand was Aspen High graduate Laura Gordon, a junior at UCLA where she plays for the school’s Division I women’s team. Growing up in Aspen, Gordon had the good fortune to train under Evert-Shane at the age of 11. With Evert-Shane as her primary mentor, Gordon was afforded the opportunity to also work with Chris and John Evert at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. Each summer, Gordon returns to Aspen to train and instruct. “This is a really fun night for everyone,” said Kerr. “And it’s such a privilege to have Chrissie come out and share her time with all of us.”Contrary to her reputation on the pro tour as “The Ice Maiden,” for being so cool under pressure, Evert could not have been more kind or presented herself with a friendlier disposition. “This has been pretty special,” said Heather Spann of the evening with the Evert sisters. A graduate of Ithaca College in New York, Spann was a doubles player for the school’s Division III women’s team. Moving to Aspen “took some time to get used to high-altitude playing, because my timing was off,” she said. “Now it’s a lot of fun.”The Aspen Tennis Club courts will remain open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through October. The Aspen Classic Tournament, for levels 3.0 to 5.0, is scheduled for Sept. 20-22. For information or to register, call the pro shop at 920-2575.As for Evert, look for her at the “Wimbledon” movie premier in Los Angeles, slated for Sept. 13. She appears in the romantic comedy in a cameo role as a sports commentator. To contact May to send info, insight or invites, e-mail: allthewaymaymay@hotmail.com


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