For the Match Point Gals, tennis at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills is more than a means of exercising.
Who they are: Ten women per season, ages ranging from 43 to 72. All of the women are mothers. One is a retired English professor. Another is a preschool Hebrew instructor. Summer players are Laurie Altman, Melissa Berman, Stacy Caplan, Shari Donato, Natalie Frazier, Joan Hellman, Marty Lane, Andrea Polsky and the mother-daughter duo of Natalie Ostraw and Katya Smith. Lane makes a players' rotation schedule for each season and records the scores — if the Gals don't lose track of them while playing. Joining for the fall and winter seasons are Rowena Haksteen, Melissa Hyatt, Linda Rimerman, and Betsy Roland.
What they do: The Match Point Gals came together more than five years ago after meeting through a communal tennis group. When the group's coordinator stopped organizing teams, the women decided to continue playing on their own. Now, they meet Thursday mornings. Two women sit out each week, and the remaining eight compete on doubles teams.
Why they do it: Tennis is a cardio workout. For the Match Point Gals, the competition of the sport is more friendly than fierce. "We do a lot of catching up," said Berman. "This is the least stressful part of our week." Laughter, which is a big part of their workout, helps clear the mind. "The main goal is having a good time," said Altman. "We don't care if we win or lose."
There is a 29-year age difference between the youngest and oldest players, but all of the women are friends. Berman and Caplan even shop for tennis clothes together.
On the court, the stronger players help those trying to improve their game. They poke fun at each other but mostly offer words of encouragement. Through injuries, health problems, job losses and life changes, the Match Point Gals are a support system. For the cold weather ahead, the women will move indoors to the Carroll Tennis Center in Finksburg.
"One of these days, we'll have our own ball boys," Hellman joked.
If you have a group that meets regularly to exercise, tell us about it so we can feature you in our Health & Style pages. We'll want basic information about your group (how often you meet, number of people in the group, what you do and why you do it), as well as a photo if you have one. Send to email@example.com or Catherine Mallette, Features, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21201.