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Tennis serves net gains to twins

Tennis has drawn Tina Elmgren,right, and her twin sister Charlotte even closer together. The two are captainsof USTA adult teams.

As young girls growing up in Medford, the Elmgren twins were inseparable.

That was nearly 30 years ago, when they were teenagers.

Whether they were banging tennis balls or downhill skiing with theirenergetic father or playing or talking about boys, Tina and Charlotte Elmgrendid it together, as twins often do.

The home of Roy and Vera Elmgren was abuzz in those days. The Elmgrenshad two sets of twin girls, representing four of their five children.

The older twin girls, Nancy and Sue, now live in California. But Charlotteand Tina have stayed here to raise their families.

The Elmgren family started quietly and normally enough with the birthof David. But the pace picked up markedly as the sets of twins were bornin succeeding years.

As the younger twins in the family, Tina and Charlotte were extra close.They covered for each other and protected each other as younger siblingsin turf battles at home.

Then came the inevitable. The twins grew up, drifted apart and startedtheir own families. It was exciting but sad.

Despite being apart, their thoughts took them back to each other mostdays.

I missed her a lot, but twins have this way of connecting mentallywith their thoughts, says Tina. You can feel what the otheris thinking. It's a comforting feeling.

Even more comfortable is that Charlotte and Tina have grown close again,thanks in part to their participation in the Southern Oregon Tennis Club,where they reunite three times a week.

It's wonderful to be out there, says Charlotte, who gravitatedtoward drama as a teenager, while Tina was into athletics, such as tennis,mountain climbing and skiing.

Tina's current passions are playing tennis and windsurfing with her husband.

Charlotte, meanwhile, is making up for lost time in tennis.

I wish I had played more tennis when I was younger because I loveit now, she says. I like the camaraderie of playing with otherpeople. It's good exercise, too.

Tina and Charlotte both captain United States Tennis Association adultteams at the club.

Tina plays for a 4.0-rated team in singles, while Charlotte plays fora 3.0 team in doubles. Players are rated between 1.0 and 7.0 by USTA-trainedraters, such as Frank Inn, the head professional at Southern Oregon TennisClub.

Inn says the highest a player in Southern Oregon can be rated is 5.0.That number is based on the ability levels of players in the region.

Tina's 4.0 team will meet the Salem Swim and Tennis Club today in Salemin the USTA sectional playoffs. Her team won its conference (Southern Oregon)championship with a 6-0 record.

At the same site, Charlotte's 3.0 team will face Eugene Swim and TennisClub in a sectional match. Her team won the conference with a 6-2 record.

Top teams in Oregon qualify for regional and national tournaments.

Our goal is to get to the nationals, says Tina. Thatwould be the ultimate for us.

Charlotte says she never took tennis as seriously as Tina did, but shenow welcomes the health benefits and the chance to be with her sister.

We take baskets of balls out on the court and practice togetherand try to help each other a lot, says Charlotte. It's fun.It's pulled us closer.

Tina's husband, Dr. Steve Chamberlain, is an orthopedic surgeon in Medford.Tina has three children, Kelsey, 15; Margo, 13; and Erin, 10.

Charlotte's husband, Dennis Olson, is vice president of community servicesfor the Asante Health System. Charlotte has two sons, Stuart, 10; and Dan,16.

None of the children of the twins play tennis, but Tina and Charlotteare hopeful that their involvement in the sport will spark their kids' interest.

Tina has been active in tennis for the past five years. Her backgroundas a youngster and her athletic ability have enabled her to reach the 4.0level.

The rating has to do with all kinds of variables, says Inn.It has to do with all shots they hit, their consistency and theirlevel of control. I've seen all levels, and I can tell pretty quickly whattheir rating should be.

Inn says Tina is a competitive player who plays or practices almost everyday. Charlotte, meanwhile, yearns to improve her game. She's not as strongand athletic as her twin, but she possesses a fierce competitive drive andthe control to go with it, Inn says.

Tina is an absolute tennis addict, says Charlotte. I'mnot anywhere near that level yet, but I'm enjoying it more and more as Iget better. My goal right now is to move up to the 3.5 level.

With her sister at her side, it might not take long.

Tennis serves net gains to twins