She was 43 when she first picked up a tennis racquet.

“My youngest daughter was turning 5, and he or she needed a shock birthday celebration,” recollects Kristine Fitts, 13 years later. “I had gotten a round from Indian Hills (Nation Membership) about how you might plan a baby’s birthday celebration with Coach Clint (Butler). I assumed, ‘none of us in our household play tennis, so this could undoubtedly be a shock.’ ”

Fitts did simply that, and her daughter had a lot enjoyable on the birthday celebration that the kid determined to take tennis classes at Indian Hills.

“She began taking part in, and I’d be sitting out right here (at Indian Hills) watching her. She was having enjoyable and I used to be having fun with it and considering, ‘I’d assume I might do that, too. It appears to be like like enjoyable.’ So I began taking classes.”

In her first yr she and her Tuscaloosa teammates, coached by Butler, received their USTA combo sectionals.

“That gave me a style of, ‘I feel I like this sport.’”

Quick ahead to October 2018. Fitts was making her third look in america Tennis Affiliation Nationwide Doubles Championships. She was there, in Orlando, on the Nationwide Tennis Campus, taking part in alongside her teammates. Her staff was primarily based out of Birmingham. Tuscaloosa doesn’t have many feminine gamers in her 55+ age division, so Fitts drives to Birmingham a number of days every week to coach and follow along with her Birmingham staff along with understanding and taking classes every week from Indian Hills director of tennis Keith Swindoll and the tennis employees.

The staff included captains Mindy Lengthy and Linda Matrock, Shelia Walker, Barbara Smith, Walton Van de Voort, Donna Gordon, Brenda Cohen, Sharon Brown, Kelly Holland, Donna Christie, Judy Theriot, Susan Womack and Jayne Getsinger. The Alabama-based staff received the state championship and the Southern sectional. 4 weeks after they received sectionals — which incorporates groups from 10 states — they have been in Orlando, taking part in for a nationwide title.

They completed second.

“There are 17 sections in USTA with the Southern part being one in every of them,” Fitts stated. “You play 4 matches, and the highest 4 scoring groups superior to the semis.”

Fitts’ staff performed the Mideast champions, a staff primarily based in Cincinnati, within the match ultimate.

“It was shut. They received two courts and misplaced one (to her staff.)”

It got here right down to the final courtroom. Fitts and her associate, Walker, have been the gamers on that courtroom.

“We misplaced in a tiebreaker,” she stated.

It was a second, she stated, that weeks later, nonetheless haunts her.

“There are 1,089 groups on this league and we completed second within the nation, however throughout the ceremony, I had a Scotty Cochran second the place I needed to take my glass trophy and slam it on the bottom,” Fitts stated, joking, referring to the College of Alabama energy and conditioning coach’s smashing of Alabama’s runner-up 2017 soccer nationwide championship trophy.

Nonetheless, she is aware of what she and her teammates achieved was main. Two years in the past, she and her staff completed final of their division on the nationwide championships. They’d rocketed from final to second nationally inside two years.

Fitts has so loved her immersion into the tennis world that she is among the most energetic boosters and ambassadors Tuscaloosa has for the game. Swindoll, along with being the tennis director at Indian Hills, can also be a volunteer coach with the College of Alabama girls’s tennis staff.

“Kristine and Martha Zeanah achieve this a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for the youngsters and their dad and mom,” Swindoll stated of her volunteer work with the Crimson Racquet Membership for the final 15 or so years. “She’s so humble. One instance of one thing she does that goes above and past got here at one in every of our Crimson Tide Racquet Membership cookouts. It was hotter than Hades that day. Kristine sees that everybody was uncomfortable, so she goes out and will get these big followers and places them out to make it extra nice. Nobody requested or anticipated her to do it. She noticed a necessity and took care of it. That’s simply how she is.”

Swindoll stated Fitts opens her house to tennis gatherings and has been instrumental in making Indian Hills’ annual Males’s Metropolis Invitational successful every summer time.

“She comes out a few weeks earlier than the match, appears to be like over the grounds and decides what must be accomplished,” Swindoll stated. “She will get her palms within the filth, planting and placing flowers out. She helps with wrapping items and placing collectively the participant present baggage. She does all these behind-the-scenes issues that make that occasion particular. She makes it really feel like Wimbledon. She’s all the time doing issues that make different folks’s lives higher. She’s some of the beneficiant folks I do know.”

Fitts shrugs off his reward. For her, she says, something to do with tennis makes her pleased.

“I simply really feel at house,” she stated of her life round and on the tennis courtroom. “I thought-about transferring to Birmingham at one time, however, after taking a look at homes there, I noticed I needed to be right here. I like my membership (Indian Hills.) Keith and the employees right here and the tennis neighborhood listed here are so particular.”

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