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June 30, 2017 08:26 PM

Toby Smith talks to Amy Badger about having her own tennis court

Amy_at_fenceA backyard tennis court is likely just a fantasy for many people.  Last year, Amy Badger, 57, made that dream come true. Badger has been around the New Mexico tennis community since 1978.  She has played competitive tennis in the city and coached the sport at several different venues and privately in Albuquerque for close to 40 years. Yes, she occasionally wondered how nice it would be to wake up each morning close by her private tennis court. Like most of us such thoughts of that kind are pushed aside because of finances, jobs and other matters that life presents. 

First things first:  Were you always thinking of your own tennis court?

Not really.  During the last couple of years I found myself driving 100 miles every day.  I wanted to cut down on that madness. I was living in the North Valley, coaching at the Tennis Club of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Academy. I was also taking my daughter Ava to school and back every day.  During the weekday, I would pick her up and then race over to the TCA where I was teaching kids in the afternoon and adults at night. For a short time, if that wasn’t enough, I also went to Jerry Cline where I helped instruct wheelchair tennis players in a weekly clinic. During the school year I coached middle school tennis at the Albuquerque Academy and the girls’ varsity team in the spring, which I’ve done for 18 years. In short, all that running around was killing me. 

So what did you do? 

I decided to leave the North Valley, where I lived, and find quarters closer to all the places I had to go during the day. Early on I registered with a Realtor’s feed. One day a year ago a ping on my phone woke me up at 1 a.m. Sleepily, I flipped through several pictures of a house and suddenly stopped. Wait! Was that a tennis court I just saw?  There already were nearly a half dozen offers on it, I learned. The address listed was near my daughter’s school. I decided to go take a look.    


I realized that this house, if I could get it, would provide a lot of solutions my logistical  nightmare. When tennis has been your whole life, something like that comes along and changes things.  

Then that was that?

Not quite. When I went to the house and looked at the tennis court, I shuddered. The court was in bad, bad shape.  In my opinion, it wasn’t playable.  Extensive cracks were everywhere.  Some were 60 feet long and four inches wide.  

So what did you do?

I made an offer and it was accepted.

But what about the cracks? 

Despite the conditions of the court, it would still be a perfect fit, with work.  I needed expert help, however. I contacted DML, who had done resurfacing at TCA. DML patched the court. Then they resurfaced it, first with a gray coating. Then they put a blue surface between the lines and green surface around the court. It now looks a lot like a U.S. Open court. By October 2016, the work was finished.  

Amy_at_gateWas the fencing around the court already there?  

Yes.  I left this neat wooden sign on the gate to the court. On the fence at the north end of the court I put up a familiar Lobo insignia. I’m a Lobo for life, you know.

Did you come to New Mexico to play tennis?  

I did.  I came here in 1978 having earned a scholarship and competed on the women’s team.  

How did you discover New Mexico?  You weren’t living nearby, were you?

I was living near Orlando, Florida, and working at the Orlando Racquet Club. Leslie Holmquist was playing a tournament there.  She was visiting her boyfriend in Orlando and she asked me about my college plans. I didn’t really have any.  Leslie told me to check out UNM, where she played with the women’s team.

Were you born in Florida?  

No, I was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. My father was kind of like that tough guy in the movie The Great Santini. He was ex-military and he was always expecting his children to go one step farther. He pushed us. I attended elementary school in Janesville, and then we moved to the Middletown, Ohio.  We moved around because my father’s specialty was helping businesses succeed. He was always looking for a challenge.

Did you play tennis in Ohio?

Yes, I was about 13 when I took my first tennis lesson at an indoor club in Middletown.  I absolutely fell in love with tennis there. From Ohio, we moved to Orlando, actually to an Orlando suburb, Altamonte Springs.  My father had lived in Florida as a young man and had graduated from the University of Florida. He wanted to go back there. Not long after we arrived he sat me down for a talk.

What did he say? 

He told me I would have to make own my way in the world.  He made me save 50 percent of all I ever made.  He told me I would have to work all my life.  He said I would have to find jobs on my own. In other words, I had to get a job and I had to start saving for college. 

Did you get a job in Orlando?

I did. Nata Treise was the pro at the Orlando Racquet Club and I asked her for a job.  I cleaned bathrooms, picked up balls during clinics, worked in the café and swept the clay courts. I did everything that needed to be done so I could have time to play and learn tennis. Nata taught me how to compete. 

Did you play high school tennis?  

Yes, at Lake Brantley High School, in Altamonte Springs. Not long after I graduated, I took off for Albuquerque.  Even though I had a few scholarship choices, I liked the idea of seeing a totally different part of the country

amy_standingWhat did you think of the campus?

My first year at UNM I lived in the Santa Ana dormitory.  It was a women-only dorm and was nicknamed “The Nunnery.” [Laughs.] I played four years for the Lobos. I was No. 1 my junior and senior years. With no spending money, I got a job on campus my freshman year.  I had to hose off all the courts that sat along Central Avenue, close by Johnson Field. I worked weekends and summers at Oshman’s sporting goods in Winrock, Mossman-Gladden and at other places in Albuquerque all four of those years. I graduated with a B.A. in business. After that I worked at Sunwest Bank. Eventually I became a paralegal and spent 13 years with two law firms and finished as a private employee benefit consultant. Through all those years I continued to coach tennis part-time. 

Then you turned to tennis full-time, didn’t you?

I was interested in helping young people learn the game. I came to the club-teaching scene fulltime in 2010.  I ran a 12-and-under program at the Lobo Club and then one at TCA.  I felt that age was important for kids who might want to play competitively.  I now enjoy working privately and with the USTA Southwest as a coach for their EDC, or Early Development Camps.  My court has lines for kids who are using red and orange balls.  I want to bring my new neighborhood into the conversation. I want to make it a good experience for everyone.  

What kind of programs do you want to have?

I am not interested in having 20 young kids on the court.  Twelve kids would be the most.  More than anything I want them to have fun. And my neighbors love the sound of happy children. My neighbors are great!  I also teach adults and am currently doing a conditioning class on the court for women who are in their 40s or so.  They told me, “We need a good workout Badger.”

Are you glad you now have your own tennis court?
Having the tennis court turned out to be the perfect storm.  Everything has come together for me.  I definitely lucked out and I look forward to making the most of it. .

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