“Tennis just keeps us young”

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FROM: Sven Nordman

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Six women who like sports (from left to right): Christina Jäger, Bärbel Wagner, Gerti Hecht, Ulrike Fritzsche, Karla Stroh and Claudia Freitag from Wißmar. © Sven Nordmann

Thanks to their community and their contagious zest for life, TC Wettenberg’s 50-year-olds are a prime example of what sport can look like in old age. A relaxed, easy four-person job interview.

Already at the TC Wettenberg facility, two members confirm that 50-year-old women are the perfect group when it comes to showing the advantages of competitive sports in their old age: “They are so cute together” and “You chose exactly what the right group” Speaks towards tennis players around the leader Karl Stroh team.

The 66-year-old from Wißmar will be celebrating the group league championship next Saturday at her own venue with her friends Christina Jäger, Bärbel Wagner, Gerti Hecht, Ulrike Fritzsche and Claudia Freitag – not only the age range of 57 to 78 reflects the diversity of the merry group, as it shows lighthearted interview.

Ladies, how often are you on the tennis court during the week?

Karla Stroh (66, lives in Wißmar): Well, we train on Fridays, Saturday is the game and then the Thursday game. All women of a certain age, say around 40, who are interested in tennis can come to play doubles on Thursday. After that, we always sit down with a few snacks.

Gerti Hecht (78, Naunheim): I find it unusual for this club. In my old club, something like this was denied as coffee tennis, and we often failed. I came to Wettenberg as a stranger, but was immediately well received.

Christina Jäger (68, Wißmar): This Thursday meeting has been going on for over 30 years. We often discuss how we want to win on Saturday. (everyone laughs)

When you think about training: what is important to you?

Christina Jäger: I’ve been training with Stephan Thylmann for 30 years. It is important to me that the technology is appropriate. Tactics also play an important role for me. Recently, my opponent accused me of not playing tennis. I just played tactically and not just fell. It is important to me to practice this constantly.

Karla Stroh: Christina, Bärbel and I come from the handball field. I played handball in this region until I was 44. It was comparable to today’s Oberliga.

Bärbel Wagner (57, Wißmar): After handball, it was clear to me that it must be a ball sport again. I need it. Running alone is not for me. I learned tennis without a coach. I didn’t get to the tennis tournament until I was 50 …

Karla Stroh: My husband always describes my game as unconventional. I only started when I was around 30 years old. What I love about tennis is that you can play it with the whole family.

Gerti Hecht: I didn’t really learn that from the coach either. It’s also hard to get the game you are used to. At one point, my opponent was still playing forehand scraps – I thought to myself: »The shot is fine for me! I also want to play it. ” Yes, sometimes it’s a bit of an excerpt. (laughs) But now the forehand piece is not good because of golf. In golf, you make a move similar to the top spin. At 90, I might still be able to run across the golf course, which can be difficult in tennis.

What do you like about tennis?

Bärbel Wagner: The competition appeals to me. There is just basic ambition.

Karla Stroh: It’s all about having a good time. I don’t need opponents that cause stress.

What about hitting a few balls?

Bärbel Wagner: It’s also fun to play against other opponents. It wouldn’t be so interesting for me to always play with the same person. I like it when I feel a challenge. I’m learning.

Christina Jäger: When a challenge arises, the concentration is greater. I’ll be in the tunnel then. I’ve ruled out everything else. Later my opponent once told me: “Break in the Champions tie-break, but it was bold!” I didn’t even know what ball it was about. I’m always going to deduct a place as a winner.

How do you feel before, during and after the game?

Bärbel Wagner: I always get very nervous at first. It bothers me a bit. But it’s better. (laughter)

Gerti Hecht: You’re talking about nervousness … I used to be so nervous. I always thought I would burst. And I thought: if this stops the tension, then I will be playing really well. It was the first time I wasn’t nervous and I immediately played really bad. (everyone laughs) I needed it. The thought “I want to win” remains. But the last bite comes with age.

How does the Saturday classic game day look like, from getting up to saying goodbye in the early evening?

Karla Stroh: For example, at the last game away in Hochheim, I had breakfast around 6.15am and left an hour later. and gathered the rest. We were there around 8:30. We came back from the away win around 18:00.

Gerti Hecht: When it comes to away games, the atmosphere is often what counts: are the opponents friendly or are there men who act as they do on the pitch?

Karla Stroh: No matter when we come home, we will sit back in the facility and drink champagne: the champagne of the loser or the champagne of the winner! (everyone laughs)

What do you think about the custom in the media group that people eat after the game?

Bärbel Wagner: I think it’s nice, but of course it also has to do with work. You have to buy it and prepare it. Then you sit comfortably together. Fortunately, Karla always prepares it very well.

Gerti Hecht: She is a great cook!

How are you feeling after Saturday afternoon?

Karla Stroh: Mentally fine, but you don’t physically walk that well. But we’ve had it before, it’s not necessarily age related.

Christina Jäger: When I think about how we sometimes got out of the car after the away games … (everyone laughs)

And emotionally?

Christina Jäger: I am often relieved. But then I can’t sleep well because I still have a lot of adrenaline. Even when exhausted, I often don’t rest.

Bärbel Wagner: When I win, I’m a bit euphoric …

Christina Jäger: If you can tell yourself that you played well, it’s a satisfying feeling – no matter if you win or lose.

How long does joy or anger last?

Karla Stroh: Not that long, it will calm down quickly …

Christina Jäger: Oh well … I used to have a doubles partner, Bärbel Wasmuth. In the decisive doubles match in the Champions’ extra time we advanced 9: 3. Then they gave us a ball that was clearly still on the line. We still lost the game. We never forget it. We will never forget it! (everyone laughs)

Karla Stroh: Tennis is a team sport.

Gerti Hecht: Everyone is fighting for themselves, but everyone is fighting for the team as well. You get nervous when it is not enough for the team because you lost.

Would you define yourself as friends?

Christina Jäger: We are completely different in age. Everyone has their own circle of friends. Nevertheless, in winter we meet at everyone’s home – everyone invites us.

If all this were not possible anymore …

Christina Jäger: Tennis is a very big part of my life. My husband doesn’t always like it. But he has to go through with it.

Bärbel Wagner: At the end of 2019, I had a shoulder operation and had to sit for a long time. I’m so glad it’s possible again because it’s just so much fun. What would I miss there. I also roller-skate or play drums, but tennis is just tennis.

Karla Stroh: At 78, Gerti is our role model. Despite my two knee surgeries, I would like to go there and have fun at this age.

What role does TC Wettenberg play as a club in this overall structure?

Karla Stroh: Our CEO Thorsten Müller-Rietdorf does it so well. I would say we’re family. Be it the season opening or the Oktoberfest – there are people everywhere to help and organize.

Christina Jäger: At the beginning of the season, we were the oldest camels.

Karla Stroh: Someone has to be the oldest – all club life keeps you young.

When an association becomes an enrichment of life …

Karla Stroh: But it always depends on how you live. The coaches are also doing a great job, the young ones follow and new parents join them. It is give and take.

How long do you want to play professional tennis?

Christina Jäger: Sometimes when I’m exhausted on a Sunday night, I think to myself: next year you’ll only be playing doubles.

Karla Stroh: When I was 44, I said to myself in handball: “I’ll stop before the audience asks: Why is she falling on the court?” I want to keep it that way in tennis. I give myself ten more years. (laughter)

Bärbel Wagner: When you play on the pitch, you always feel younger. (laughter)

Gerti Hecht: If you pull back and make excuses because it’s too hot or too cold, you also generally feel relaxed. Even at 78, I still have to be a bit fit. What is happening is responsiveness. I often see what my opponent is up to. But the path from head to feet to feet takes longer than it used to. I also notice that it is my weaker self that keeps me from running, not the legs themselves.

Karla Stroh: I always say: running is worth it!

Christina Jäger: Tennis just keeps us young. Last season, my opponents were often 17 years younger than me. If you win then, you will be proud of it.

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