Isabella (Izzy) Beach
Children: Audrey, 26
Tell us how tennis has been a special part of your life.
Tennis has meant different things at different times in my life, but the common thread throughout has always been the joy of just playing. I am one of five kids – two older brothers and two younger sisters. We all played in high school, and some of us played in college. In high school, my brothers were first and second singles, and my sisters and I played mostly singles, as well. I continued to play in college at Saint Francis University. Let’s just say I was a “big fish in a small pond” at Saint Francis. Looking back on it now, I didn’t realize what a gift and an escape, per se, I was given by playing tennis, and to be honest, it keeps on giving.
How long have you been playing tennis?
I played in high school. However, I don’t remember what age I was when I picked up a racquet. I never gave it much thought because my brothers’ racquets were always somewhere around the house. When I wanted to play or just get away, I would walk a couple of blocks down to our local Acme in Ambler. The Acme had a flat wall on the side of the building, so I would take one of my brother’s racquets and a couple of tennis balls, and I would just hit and hit and hit against the wall for hours. There was no strategy in my head. There was no, “I am going to work on my serve.” It was just hitting. And sometimes it should be just that – just hitting.
How did you start playing?
It started out because my brothers played, and it just seemed like the thing to do. My mom was a single parent, who worked full-time managing five kids in their teens. We had tennis practice or matches after high school, so my mom knew where we were, and often times, we were together. As luck would have it, we all had a natural ability for the game of tennis, and way back when, as it is now in high school, if you were good at something, you got recognized.
What are some of your notable tennis accomplishments?
To honest, it is nice when other people recognize your skill in playing tennis, no matter what age. In high school, the local paper highlighted my sisters and me being on the high school team together, playing Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles.
In college, because I played No. 1 singles (remember, I was a “big fish in a small pond”), it was an easier transition for me being away from home for the first time because I was on the tennis team. Please note that I was still using my one of my brother’s racquets that I used in high school. Tennis at Saint Francis opened my world
But for me, right now, it is the accomplishment of meeting wonderful and genuine people who love the sport. I have a tennis distribution of close to 70 people who love to play. Are we lightly competitive? Yes. Do we play like Roger Federer is just around the corner to give us a check? No. So having a healthy mix of competition, fun
What is your most memorable tennis moment?
With my mom being a single parent, I often received hand-me-down things regarding tennis from my brothers – racquets, old tennis balls to practice with, etc. My high school coach, Mary Lou Kent, noticed that my tennis shoes were looking a little too worn. She knew of my mom’s situation, so she decided to buy me a pair of tennis shoes from money out of her own pocket. She gave me the new tennis shoes in a way that was not embarrassing to me or to my mother. Now, fast forward 30 years. I saw Mrs. Kent in a local restaurant. I went up to her and thanked her and expressed how she could not fully grasp how much that kindness meant to me. It changed my life.
What has tennis taught you about yourself?
Hmmm, where do I start? Tennis has taught me to acknowledge and embrace your own skill. And to know it is OK to be proud of yourself, without being cocky, at any age.
I don’t like to lose, but I know that there will always be someone better than you, and that is OK. No matter how old you are, you can always have “life lessons,” one of which I have learned recently – don’t take yourself too seriously. If I have played my best and if I have laughed on the court at one time or another, then I am good. Nothing more is needed. It is that simple.
After playing in high school and college, I didn’t play again for about 25-plus years. A few years ago, I started playing again, and let me tell you, it all came back. I may be a bit slower, but my love for the sport is as if I was never away. Before I knew it, I found that I could hold my own on the court once again. And, by the way, when I started playing again, I was still using my brother’s racquet. No doubt, I knew I needed to get my own racquet, which I did. I now have two.