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Kari Mutscheller serves best off the courtKari...


Kari Mutscheller serves best off the court

Kari Mutscheller hesitates for just a second when she hears the question: Is she a good tennis player with a mean volley?

"No. I'm not a very good tennis player at all," says Mrs. Mutscheller, 33, who works for ProServe, a sports marketing and management company. "And I am not being modest. I'm being totally honest."

Fortunately, being good at the game wasn't a prerequisite for Mrs. Mutscheller's job. She is in her second year as tournament director for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

The tournament, which will be held July 15-23 in Washington, will feature big-name stars such as Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg and Wayne Ferreira.

"I like the sport, and I like the job," says Mrs. Mutscheller, who has run other tennis tournaments and is the first woman to run the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. "I have a staff that is wonderful. We do everything from advertising to promotion to facility management."

It's not a 9-to-5 job, Mrs. Mutscheller says. And thank goodness. Her office is in suburban Washington, and Mrs. Mutscheller lives in Cockeysville with her husband and their two young children.

Now, about a month before the tournament, Mrs. Mutscheller is spending more days in the office pulling things together and checking out all the little details.

She says the tournament's charity aspect appeals to her even more than the tennis playing.

"This benefits the Washington Tennis Foundation," Mrs. Mutscheller says. The foundation helps to support a tennis recreation and academic program for about 15,000 inner-city youths, she says.

@ "As a kid, Jane Goodall was my hero," says Gail Mahler. "That's what I always wanted to be when I grew up."

Ms. Mahler may not work with chimpanzees in the wild like Jane Goodall, but she has devoted her career to animals. Ms. Mahler runs Paradise Pet Sitting, which takes care of pets while the owners are on vacation.

Ms. Mahler, 33, discovered the growing demand for pet-sitting while in the Navy. She found that military people needed a place to leave their pets while waiting for housing overseas. Ms. Mahler volunteered to care for the displaced pets. She also discovered that civilians needed pet-sitters, too, while they were away on vacation. As a result, Ms. Mahler established Paradise Pet Sitting in Pasadena.

Since 1992, she and her assistant have been traveling to homes in Anne Arundel County taking care of pets while the owners are away. Ms. Mahler meets her customers -- and their pets -- before they depart, to familiarize herself with the animals' personalities and special needs. For instance, Ms. Mahler has met with the owner of a cat that needs the air bubbles removed from its milk; otherwise, the cat will smack at the offending bubbles.

Ms. Mahler, who has a degree in animal care science and is a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, enjoys visiting her customers' homes to spend time with pets in their own environment. She spends up to 30 minutes walking, feeding and lavishing attention on each pet she visits.

Paradise Pet Sitting has cared for all manner of pets, from cats and dogs to ferrets and pot-bellied pigs. Ms. Mahler says she will "watch just about anything." However, she does exclude wolf hybrids and pit bulls because of their violent reputations.

RF For more information on Paradise Pet Sitting, call (410) 360-5950.

Bethany M. Nikfar

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