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SundayDoubsAlways on Sunday
by Toby Smith

They’re public parks guys, these fellas. They play for recreation, yet none of them wants to lose. They don’t stick to formalities, but they like to stick it to each other.
For more than 30 years, this handful of men has played doubles together on Sunday mornings. The sites have changed over time and so has the cast. One man blew out a knee. One tore a tendon. another died, two took up golf. Through it all, a core group remains. Several are attorneys, so a good amount of disorder on the court occurs. They play first serve in, but they don’t do takeovers. Well, most of the time. Line balls are definitely in, except when they’re out. During the winter months, the men take a group lesson from Jeff Tonjes, a longtime Albuquerque teaching pro and tournament player. They are my Joke Group, Tonjes says.
RAY HAMILTON, 63, attorney:  I remember we used to play on the courts at UNM, the ones at Girard and Central.  They’re now gone.  Before that we played at the Complex. That’s gone too.  We’re all about 3.5 to 4.0.    Tommy (Jewell) is the best player.  He’s got a great serve. He’s a good athlete. I am probably one of the worst. I got to get surgery.  When I was playing regularly, my forehand was good.
TOMMY JEWELL, 60, attorney, former Children’s Court judge:  We hold Ray’s Harvard law degree over him.  We bring it up a lot—especially when he loses track of the score.
RAY HAMILTON: We have nicknames. They used to call me “Hambone.”  Tommy is T-Bone.  Danny Smith is “Dan-O,” after the “Hawaii 5-0” character. Ross Perkal, he’s “Roscoe."
TOMMY JEWELL: We played at the Barelas Courts for a while.  We called ourselves the “Barelas Brothers.”  I miss the Complex.  They had a number of courts and a culture that included tournaments and league play. It was a good place to meet friends and play.  We call Dan Smith “Big Money.”  Dan Ferguson he’s a youngster, but he has the wheels to run down anything we hit.  He’s “Handsome Dan.”
DAN FERGUSON, 57, teacher APS: Mostly we talk about our wives and our jobs and we complain.  Some of us have been married. These guys are easy to be with. I don’t like real competitive tennis. It can take you away from being a human being.       
TOMMY JEWELL: We talk about our families and we reminisce.  We talk about Danny Smith’s kids learning to ride bikes at Barelas.  Way back when we played at Barelas Park, we called ourselves the Barelas Brothers. We’ve seen divorces—parental as well as siblings. We’ve gone through the gamut of stuff. We tend to be a very consoling and supportive group.  A couple of guys are Jewish.  We support African American causes. One of our Barelas Brothers, Victor Pedro, died in 1999.  Vic’s presence bought another layer of culture for us.  He was a native of Acoma Pueblo.  We all went out to the service at Acoma.  
ROSS PERKAL, 65, attorney:  There are a lot of lawyer jokes. They don’t like my line calls.  They call me the “Crooked Line Caller.”  When we first started, we all had kids. Now it’s grandkids.  It’s been great to see everyone’s kids grow up.  We spend birthdays together and holidays together.
DAN SMITH, 59, Metro Court probation officer: Do we have arguments? Oh, yes. Let me tell you we’ve had many what I would generously call “discussions” about the gentleman’s sport of tennis. Whether a ball is in or out is a common topic.  That issue has come up a lot. Yes, we debate line calls. I have to give Judge Jewell credit. He knows how to handle these situations.  We have no instant replay, of course.  If you didn’t see it, it’s in.  
DAN FERGUSON: We’re very competitive, but not in a destructive way. Everybody takes it seriously, but not so serious it ruins your day.  I don’t want to play in a league. That’s not why I play tennis. If you can’t make the call, give it to your opponent. The pressure to win is all over league matches.  
TOMMY JEWELL: One time I threw a racket at Woody Smith. He was probably five feet from me and I expressed my anger in an inappropriate way.  When we have these episodes, we wind up laughing about them.  
DAN FERGUSON: It’s my job to keep people laughing. I make a lot of sex jokes, you know, in a manly way.  Listen, men spit, we scratch, we swear, we talk dirty.
ROBERT WENGROD,  55, school psychologist: I’m the young guy of the group.  The others, they call me a lot of things under their breath.  We play hard, but we’re not out to kill each other.  I enjoy their lawyer stories.  Over the years, my knowledge of the court and anticipation of where the ball is going have improved.  My forehand is a little weaker than I would like it to be.  
JEFF TONJES, 60:  We go to Jerry Cline now. We do about an hour and a half, sometimes two hours.  No doubles play; doubles is too slow for them. They like to drill and move. These guys are twice-a-week players, maybe. They want to keep in shape. We tried four or five times a week but they don’t want to do that.  These guys get on each other, but without bruising. I think they’re kind of happy where they are in life.  
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