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MailTribune.com
  • Community on the courts

    Tennis on the Gold Hill courts is more than a game for these devotees
  • Ron Miyamoto loves tennis. So he doesn't let a little thing like an ischemic stroke, suffered in 2008 and partially paralyzing his left side, keep him from playing the game — with a little help from friends.
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  • Ron Miyamoto loves tennis. So he doesn't let a little thing like an ischemic stroke, suffered in 2008 and partially paralyzing his left side, keep him from playing the game — with a little help from friends.
    "My passion was tennis before my stroke," Miyamoto says. "Even during rehabilitation in the hospital, one of my activities was hitting the tennis ball with the therapist. The first thing I wanted to do after leaving the hospital was to be on the tennis courts again."
    Thanks to his neighbor, 88-year-old Ogden Kellogg, and a bunch of other tennis aficionados who live in the Gold Hill and Sams Valley areas, Miyamoto often gets out on the court two or three times a week.
    Unlike many municipal tennis courts in Small Town America, the two courts in this city's sports park — by the Rogue River just east of downtown — get regular use. In large part, that is because of the example set by a group of players, including Miyamoto and Kellogg, who play there for several hours three mornings a week. For this group, tennis is less about competition than about community and recreation.
    Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday morning (when it's not raining or snowing) at least some of the 20 or so players on the group's email list show up to play in a rotation devised so each player has a different doubles partner for each game. If only four or five players show up, they use just one court, but if more come, they rotate through both courts.
    Cindy Darnell and husband Carl have been playing on the Gold Hill courts since being invited by Miyamoto shortly after the courts were resurfaced. Darnell soon took on the chore of chief organizer. She calls and emails reminders about changes in starting times and often brings home-baked treats to share.
    "Over time, we have become a community of people who have learned to love and respect each other as much for our differences as for the love of the game of tennis," Darnell says. "We have been there for each other in so many ways. Three of our players lost their wives to long-term illness, so we made sure that three days a week they had an opportunity to hit a ball and feel better about life."
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