I’m not a numbers person. It’s true. Math is not my favorite.
Go figure, my sport--tennis--uses numbers in increments (15, 30, 40) and a simple zero is not a zero but rather the word, ‘Love!’ I’ve worked through all ‘that’ and cohabitate nicely with numbers on court. But I still face numbers everyday--especially in business.
Leave it to a Florida based tennis gal known as the ‘SWINGING NUN,’ and who is slightly my ‘senior,’ to school me on numbers and get me smiling about them!
How did she do it?
She sent a simple email—customer to manufacturer-- containing constructive product feedback on her order. We in turn reached out to field her questions. Quickly, business emails blossomed into enjoyable tennis talk. We were in the midst of a true tennis lover and spirited person. We knew our customer was becoming a friend!
Today, I’m embracing the numbers and gladly, ‘doing the math’ with a summation of delightful history and awe-inspiring numbers about our customer, and now tennis friend, Sue Berry (Port St. Lucie, Florida):
Sue comes from a family of sailors and grew up watching her father play tennis (which he did until he was 96 years old). She was the captain of her basketball team in a Catholic school and wanted nothing to do with tennis—‘zip,’ ‘nada,’ 0!
Nudged to try tennis as a young girl, Sue does so and wins 2 of the first tennis tournaments she ever enters but decides not to continue.
1 day, Sue picks up racquetball in New Jersey and ends up playing for 25 years
As a young woman, Sue begins teaching elementary school and does so for 36 years beginning in Harlem, NY while being a nun (then moves on to Howell, NJ)!
Somewhere in all of the above, and the pace of life, Sue marries 1 patient man and has 2 daughters
Life is good but speeds along and takes a turn. Sue and her husband move from New Jersey to Florida to be near her aging folks who, at that time, were approaching their 90’s!
When arriving in Florida Sue has only 1 friend who abruptly tells her, “…if you want to meet any of my friends you better get rid of your racquetball stuff and learn tennis.”
Call it a response to a friends challenge-- call it crazy, at the age of 58 Sue decides to start tennis, for real.
As she throws herself into all of her family: husband, 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren and her parents---that now have neared their mid 90’s-- Sue plays tennis a little more ‘on the side,’ as balance.
Remember, during all of this, Sue has now moved into her 60’s!
Sue continues to aid and adore her folks as they move into their 100’s!
Sue’s 1 friend helps her discover team tennis! Sue joins 1 tennis team that morphs into eventually playing on 6 USTA teams and 2 other local teams (it’s a Florida ‘thing’). Got it? That’s 8 teams! I think.
Sue is now nearing her 70’s and along the way has put together a 3.5 USTA rating (someone had to throw a decimal at me)
In 2008 Sue is fortunate to be asked by an opponent (who was starting a Super Senior 3.5 USTA team) to be on that team. That team goes on to win Districts, Sectionals and State Championships! They earn a spot in Nationals in Mobile Alabama and finish 4th! Another Nationals spot is earned at another time in our story. Sue’s team takes 3rd in Surprise, AZ!
Lets mention that 1 patient husband again here in our calculation/story because it’s the right thing to do.
Sad yes, but filled with loving family and peace, Sue’s mother passes at 102 and her father at 101! Her folks kept their bodies and minds in shape all the way to the end; which is really the beginning…
We met Sue at her now current age of 72! She’s open, bubbly and a certified tennis nut! She uses phrase like: ‘I love tennis,’ I’m full of passion about this game and continually want to improve.’ But that’s not where Sue’s nuttiness, or the numbers end…
Sue practices 5-6 days a week, works out at Gold’s Gym and has started kayaking and biking (with her tennis friends). A typical day now involves (1) 1 hour semi private lesson + 3 hours of doubles and then maybe a few hours on the water, or bike trails!
Sue Berry will exceed 145 years of age and will play tennis for another 72.5+ years!
If I’ve ever calculated one thing correctly in my life it’s this: Sue Berry is proof that tennis can be started at any age and really can be LOVE 40,50,60,70+! It’s a sport of longevity if it is honored, respected, and includes an understanding family and other tennis nuts! Sue has all of those!
Because I love numbers so much, here are some additional interesting stats on Sue:
The last question I asked Sue was:
How do you stop ‘the hurt’ and soreness from so much play? Her response, Honestly, I don’t hurt that much or have too much soreness…”
Are you kidding me!?
VAMOS Sue! You’re a special tennis spirit, customer and friend! Thank you for everything!
(Sue Berry and friends shown dressing as her favorite player, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Complete with long socks, tattoos, hair color and 'eyeblack'!)