By Courtney Williams
Surprise, Ariz.— Audrey Simmelink, of the 6.0 Pacific Northwest women’s team from Kennewick, Wash., is not only among the oldest players at the 2010 USTA League Super Senior National Championships, but she also is among the most generous, even if she will not tell you that.
Simmelink has won four of the 11 national championships she has played in; she won three championships with her good friend Vicki Rynd, who is playing doubles with her this weekend.
"Because Audrey is so tall, she is amazing at the net; she returns everything. She has great control, and you know she will be at the net and ready. She’s very competitive and hates to lose," says Rynd.
Rynd says Simmelink has been an inspiration to the team.
"She is such an inspiration to all of us- her competitiveness, her determination to win, her willingness to get out there, and her love of the game," Rynd reveals of her teammate and friend with whom she has traveled the world. "Audrey has had knee and shoulder problems, but she worked through it because she wanted to be ready to play.
Simmelink did not start playing tennis until the age of 50, but she has built up quite a resume in 34 years, and she loves the game.
"Tennis is great exercise. It keeps me young, and I’ve made such wonderful friends. I went through terrible times," Simmelink remembers. "My husband died, and then I got cancer, and my tennis buddies were there for me."
Her coach, Karin Sobotta, believes Simmelink is vital to the team’s success.
"Audrey offers this team experience. She’s been to nationals so many times that she knows how to do it," Sobotta says. "She knows about strategies with line-ups and has seen a lot of teams. The team is well prepared because of her expertise."
Simmelink is a generous benefactor off the court. She endowed a scholarship that is gifted annually to a tennis player at Washington State University. Simmelink also contributed funds to renovate the indoor tennis facility at WSU, which is now named in her honor.
Speaking of generosity, Rynd says Simmelink plans to take the team to Cabo San Lucas if they win nationals this weekend.
for more news & photos from the 2010 USTA League 6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior National Championships.