» News

All Aboard!!

July 7, 2015 10:11 AM

Two brothers, two window seats and a pair of happy campers

Story by Toby Smith   *    Photograph by Alex Mansfield

Bloodworth_boys_(2)Talk about a cool ride.

Evan Bloodworth, 11, and his 9-year-old brother Hardie Bloodworth, travel to their tennis lessons by train. Both ways.

This summer the Bloodworth boys have been getting up four days a week at 6 a.m. to have breakfast at their Santa Fe home with their parents.   At about 7:05, one of the parents, either Jon or Tory Bloodworth, takes the boys to the Santa Fe Depot in time to catch the 7:13 southbound New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

It’s 8:37 a.m. when the boys step down from the train at the Montano station, on the north side of Albuquerque.

How did all this start?  Amy Badger, now the senior assistant tennis professional at the Tennis Club of Albuquerque, met the brothers a year or so ago at a USTA Early Development Camp at the Lobo Tennis Club.  “Their parents were exploring different clubs in the Albuquerque area and asked what I had going,” Badger says. “I liked their interest and that fall the boys started in TCA’s 12-and under competition held on weekends.  They quickly progressed to the Junior Competition level.  

Badger has found the two boys to be:
a joy to be around  

Hardie Bloodworth says, “We wanted a club where the coaches cared about us and watched our matches.”

Add precocious to the list.

This year when TCA’s summer camp was about to begin, Jon and Tory Bloodworth didn’t see how their sons could get there on a daily basis. Jon works for a financial software company headquartered in California and Tory is a commercial lender for the First National Bank of Santa Fe.

“It wasn’t like we could carpool to Albuquerque,” Tory says.

That’s when they thought of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, the relaxing passenger service that glides quietly between Santa Fe and Albuquerque in an hour and a half. The Bloodworths buy a $45 monthly pass for each boy.  And that’s round trip.  Badger enlisted club members and parents of summer camp kids to voluntarily pick up the Bloodworths and have them at TCA by 9 a.m. When camp ends each day at 4 p.m., a volunteer drives the brothers to Montano station in time to meet the 4:41 northbound train. They are home by 6:15.

You might think there would be concerns about the brothers traveling by themselves.  After all, the boys are not yet 5-feet tall.

 “I’m not worried because there are two of them,” says Tory Bloodworth.  “We have tried to give them little bits of independence.  They walk or ride their bikes to school. They carry phones with them and we’re in touch with them.”

“They’re very responsible,” says Jon Bloodworth.

The boys typically take seats across from each other, next to the window and in the caboose.

There are, no strangers on the train.
HARDIE: “We know all the conductors.”
What are their names?
EVAN: “Um, one is Liz.”
HARDIE: “They always wave to us.”

A scary moment?
HARDIE: “One day the train hit a cow on the tracks.”
EVAN:  “We had to sit and wait a long time.”

This fall, Evan will attend St. Mike’s High School, where he’ll be a seventh grader.  Hardie will be a fifth grader at Gonzales Community School.”  

Since this is about tennis, here’s their career, in short:
Evan started hitting balls at 4 with his father (a 4.5 USTA league player) at the Sangre de Cristo Racquet Club.  “I remember him saying, “Use the right grip and the split step.”

Hardie says he was about 3 when he picked up a racket. “I was a righty at first and then I changed to my left hand.”

Blame the switch on Nadal.  To further emulate Rafa, Hardie wears his curley brown hair to his shoulders. Those gray, protective glasses both brothers have on are prescription sports goggles.

This summer, the brothers combined to win the 12-under doubles at Club Rio Rancho junior tournament.  Evan won the singles and Hardie won the consolation singles.  Earlier, Hardie played the Cactus Cup 10s in Tucson and the Southwest Closed, also in Tucson.

HARDIE:  “I have 15 trophies.”  
EVAN:  “How do you know that?”
HARDIE:  “I count them every day.