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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Strings that Bind: Tennis Unites Family and Friends Globally

Most fathers don’t play contact football with their 10-year-old sons, and it’s hard to imagine any teenage girls asking their mothers to join their pompom team. Some sports simply are not family-oriented. Some sports, however, are family-centric at their core. For a good example, watch a doubles tennis game with a dad and daughter taking on mom and son. The chances are that the kids are giving the adults as good as they’re getting, and they’re all enjoying each other’s company.  

In spite of its competitive nature, or maybe because of it, tennis is one of those sports that can bring a family together in healthy activity. Consequently, tennis clubs such as Bluewater Bay Tennis Center, in Niceville, offer a wide array of programs for adults of every age and playing ability, as well as children from tots to teens. A stroll around their 12 courts is likely to yield a grandparent lobbing balls to a grandchild or a spirited match between siblings or spouses.

Its international flavor is another exciting side of tennis. Even the quirky scoring has its roots in a variety of different European languages and cultures. The tennis word for zero is love, which might come from l’oeuf, the French word for egg, or lof, the Dutch word for honor. Whatever the origin, all tennis games, sets and matches begin and end with love.

The countries represented by competitors at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open or any major tennis event around the world, including the Men’s Professional Tournament held at the Bluewater Bay Tennis each November, is a global cornucopia. “I’d never encountered an Australian in my life,” says Jami Schultz, an employee of the center. “Since I started working here I’m friends with more than a dozen.”

The multicultural aspect of tennis is reflected in the staff and members of Bluewater Bay Center. Schultz’ Aussie friends include Club Director Gary Bertoldo. Other teaching professionals are from Ireland, Italy and the Virgin Islands. Owner Bert Daiberl is German and Manager Cliff Drysdale is South African.

Tennis is an accepting and tolerant sport that doesn’t need a translator, so the Irish, Hungarian, Dutch, Turkish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese and Iranian languages and accents spoken on the courts don’t stop play for the hundreds of club members from worldwide locales. Their common bond is a family-friendly sport they love. Or l’oeuf. Or lof.

Bluewater Bay Tennis Center, available to the public and members, is located at 777 Bay Dr., in Niceville. For more information, call 850-897-8010 or visit Bluewater Bay Tennis Center on Facebook.

Before settling in Bluewater Bay for 20 years, Tess Vaccaro, an avid tennis player, bike rider and sailor, traveled and lived throughout the world with her military husband. They chose Bluewater Bay because they loved the active lifestyle and unique neighborhoods.

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