Robin Harris won a gold medal competing in the Alice Marble Cup in Lisbon, Portugal. (courtesy photo)
Robin Harris helps USA win gold medal
Winning a gold medal for your country is a dream of many but a reality for only a few.
Robin Harris, who has been the tennis director at the Scripps Ranch Swim & Racquet Club since 1987, recently represented the gold medal-winning USA team in an international tennis competition in Lisbon, Portugal. The Alice Marble Cup is for women ages 60 to 64. It is an International Tennis Federation (ITF) sponsored event.
“There were over 30 countries represented in the competition,” Harris explained. “We beat France in the finals to win the gold medal.”
The two-week event began with the team competition the first week followed by a second week of individuals trying to win medals. Teams consisted of four people. A match consists of two singles and one doubles.
The process for even making the team is a challenge and it happens every year. Nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team just because they played the previous year.
“You have to apply to be on the team and then the USTA (United States Tennis Association) makes the final selections based on your playing record and related factors for that year,” Harris said. “Basically, for every one position on the team, there are four or five people applying.”
This is not a competition where seniors play for a couple of hours a day once the teams arrive at the venue and then socialize.
“We were up every morning at 5:30 and practicing as soon as possible because once the matches begin at eight, there are no other courts available to practice,” Harris stated. “Typically, our days end around seven in the evening and then we get up the next day and do it all over again.”
She also picked up silver medals in the individual competitions in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Harris, who last year was the only female in the class inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Senior Hall of Fame, is not sure about whether she will compete next year. The many challenges are large considering the time commitment, practicing and the fact participants are responsible for some of their expenses. But, she is grateful for this year’s experiences.
“There is an opening ceremony with kids carrying flags for each participating country. It is kind of like an old people’s Olympics,” she said. “Plus, I had never been to Portugal before and was not sure if and when I would have the chance to return. Then, for some rest and relaxation after the competition, we went to Spain and I had never been to that country either. It was a fun experience.”