Comrades & Conversation on the Court

1015tennisRecently, i had the honor and privilege of speaking with a few great guys who have kept up with a wonderful tradition all their own. For the past five or six years, a dozen community seniors meet every week on Friday at 10:30 a.m., most attend University Synagogue. These friends and comrades converge on local tennis courts for an hour and a half. Following the games they gather at a local restaurant for lunch and discuss the news of the day. This has been a very special tradition that these men look forward to every week.

Chuck Weinberg, Jlife’s resident photographer extraordinaire (as you will see from the photos), had this to say: “Basically, I think tennis and the friendships made have kept the group healthy.” In short, it is a great way to stay healthy, stay active, keep up longtime friendships and catch up on your week. It seems like a win-win.

Gordon Fishman, a prominent member of the Jewish community, told me that a lot of men their age meet for golf, but that  usually takes all day. This way they play a round of up to four games in the morning and still get to catch up over lunch, usually at Strawberry Farms. “We were there so often people started to notice. As more and more members joined us we went from one table to two tables!” The owner eventually decided that they needed a room of their own—with a large, round table—where the group could converse and hang out over good food and conversation. They were having so much fun, people started to hear about it and wanted to join them for lunch: even if they don’t play tennis. They were more than happy to oblige. It’s a real good group of guys with a “one-for-all and all-for-one mentality,” said Fishman.

Many years ago, David Stoll, another leader in the community, recalled that Gordon started the tradition of taking the group out for lunch on a birthday. Gordon’s wife Hannareta baked a cake and that started the movement… they always host a birthday and celebrate it with one another. Stoll said, “It’s an all-comers game and we play in Irvine. We all look forward to being together and going out to lunch after tennis.”

Every week, each group member sends an email telling the group whether they are playing or not—that way everyone knows that they will always have a partner and always get to play four games with lunch after! This also serves as a way of checking in on each other. If anyone isn’t feeling well or not particularly up for tennis, they have a support system in place. What an incredible and inspiring group!

Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.

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