Carolyn Conides lived in a small community called Sunnyside; they could see the Empire State Building from their window. The houses were small and attached with a common backyard. There was one large apartment complex which is where Carolyn lived. There was a 3 acre private park that was deeded to the residents of what was known as the Sunnyside Gardens from the city of NY. As long as the residents kept the park operating it was theirs. Located on the property, were three clay courts. After Carolyn’s first child was born in 1963 she joined the park (it was private, you had to live in the area and pay annual dues) and met lots of the other mothers. Many of them played tennis. Carolyn had never played so she walked up the block to the city park where there were handball courts. She parked the baby carriage and began hitting against the wall. Carolyn became fairly proficient but was too nervous to approach the ladies who played in the private park. By the following year, she was asked to join the tennis club. They played from 10am to noon every day while the children were in nursery school which was provided free by the apartment complex.
Carolyn remembers using a small wooden racket from a sporting goods store that she bought for about $12. When she became better at her game, she began playing mixed doubles on weekends and never played singles. Carolyn had two more children and played to her seventh month of pregnancy. There were always 3 or 4 baby carriages parked outside the fence. The older children would come and rock the carriages if any of the babies were crying.
Her first rivalry game, not professional, was her husband Jim and herself against her oldest daughter and her boyfriend. Jim actually had matching shirts for them. The prize was losers bought dinner. Jim and Carolyn won the match. The youngsters wanted a rematch, and Carolyn & Jim won again - daughter and boyfriend bought dinner. Professionally Carolyn loved watching McEnroe and Connors. They were explosive, played the net, cursed the chair umpire and linesmen, and made it very exciting.
Carolyn played for about 15 years when she decided she wanted to learn to play golf. The girls were old enough to be left alone for the 5 hours it would take to play on the city courses. She fell in love with golf immediately. To her surprise it seemed crazy that she could not hit a ball sitting up not moving when she could hit the tennis ball coming at her very fast. There were very few women playing and Carolyn could almost hear the foursome of men behind her grumbling about having to follow a woman. Generally by the 4th or 5th hole they would say to Jim, “your wife has a great swing”.
When Jim & Carolyn came to TP in 1995 they continued to only play golf. One day, Jim said “let’s play tennis again”. They stumbled around the court until they got their sea legs. They were both asked to join different groups. Jim played every week with Rocky Pyle and Carolyn played with Joan Longenecker. That was the end of their 20 year absence from tennis. It was wonderful to see TP change to HarTru courts which was what she played on back home when they changed from red clay to HarTru. The friends she has made over her 20 years of tennis in TP are true, good caring friends.
Carolyn gave back to the tennis club by being the Secretary for 3 different Presidents. She ran 10 theme based Championship Dinner Dances and now at age 83 she has decided to retire.
Note from Josephine: Retire? I don’t think so? From the first day I met Carolyn, I couldn’t believe her age! She is gracefully strong on the tennis courts and full of energy with a youthful body till today.
By Ace Reporter Josephine