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They’ve still got it

These women love their tennis
By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Know and Go:

What: Sun City Lincoln Hills Women’s 3.5 USTA 65-plus playoffs

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. June 8

Where: Sun City Lincoln Hills tennis courts, off of Del Webb Boulevard at the Sports Complex

Dedicated tennis players only get better with each year.

At least for Pietrina Magna and the 19-plus players on the Sun City Lincoln Hills Women’s 3.5 USTA 55-plus and 65-plus groups, that’s the case.

USTA stands for United States Tennis Association and the 20 Lincoln Hills club members are serious about their games and about winning.

The Lincoln Hills Women’s 3.5 USTA 55-plus team won the local league championship last year and advanced to the sectionals.

And this year’s Lincoln Hills Women’s 3.5 USTA 65-plus team is currently in first-place in the Sacramento area and plays the second-ranked regional team June 8 in Lincoln Hills to determine who goes on to sectionals next month in Napa.

The two teams are open to any Lincoln Hills woman ranked 3.5 by the United States Tennis Association.

“You have to be a pretty good tennis player, you have to be competitive, know court strategy and know ball position,” Magna said. “We’ve been doing this for five years I want to say with several different ladies. A lot of the women have done this already in previous lives, before retiring. It takes a lot of commitment. Because people did it prior to retirement, a lot of them want to play socially instead of competitively. We do it for the competition.”

Teammates are devoted to the game; it’s not just a hobby but a lifestyle they have continued after moving to Lincoln Hills.

“We practice once a week. We play all the time, as long as it isn’t raining,” said Magna, the captain of both teams. “We could be freezing in winter but we’ll bundle up. It’s great exercise. We’re an active community and we like to promote that.”

Not content to just play for fun, the two teams play with the No. 1 priority to beat the other regional teams.

“Most of my ladies are beyond 65. We’re playing people 10 years younger than us and we’re still beating them,” Magna said. “That’s how competitive we are. We’re still out there competing; we’re still out there having fun competing. As long as we can do this, we will.”

Members range in age from 55 to 75.

“Half of the players are older than 70. For the 55-plus team, four are in their 70s,” said Magna, 68. “But we don’t talk about age. Age is just a number. None of us look in our 70s or late 60s. We don’t look our age because we’re active and we don’t sit in front of a TV or sit there all day doing nothing. We play from 9 a.m. to noon.”

The 55-plus team plays doubles in the summer league from June to September.

The 65-plus team plays doubles in the spring league from March to May.

“People can come and watch. Our matches are posted on our website (sclhtg.com), which is open to the public,” Magna said. “See when we’re playing. We have men’s leagues as well.”

Magna is now hoping that the 65-plus team wins the playoff June 8 at the Lincoln Hills courts and that Lincoln residents of all ages attend the event.

“The playoff match for the 65-plus team culminates our season. Bring folding chairs and umbrellas. We hope to draw a crowd June 8,” Magna said. “There will be three courts of tennis competition being played, 12 ladies playing three teams. People will be enthusiastic. People will maybe be motivated to join a USTA team. They’ll be inspired to join. That would be awesome.”

The two teams appreciate Jim Walker, a Lincoln Hills resident, coaching them. Walker is the USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) NorCal Independent Professional of the Year 2015 and, in 2011, was ranked No. 1 for Northern California mixed doubles in the age 60s category.

“He has given us so much of his time and expertise,” Magna said. “We won’t be here today without him.”  

Walker is proud of the Lincoln Hills women tennis players.

“The women’s teams here at Sun City Lincoln Hills have progressed at an astonishing rate. No one here is getting younger but indeed they have gotten better. They are true athletes, who squash or dispel any stereotypical ideas about senior adults only being able to play Bingo or Checkers while singing hymns at the so-called senior center,” Walker said. “Not so with these tenacious competitors. I only assist a little and answer questions. It is they who undertake the challenge and engage in the battle. All with wonderful attitudes and belief in themselves.

Walker also appreciates the teams’ spirit.

“What I believe that separates them from other competitors (many of whom are many years younger) is the team, as a whole, knows that there are no guarantees in the world of sports,” Walker said. “But our ladies remain consistent in their belief that ‘it’s not always about the results, but the commitment to the effort.’”