When Jim Bakle was in high school, he thought that tennis was a “sissy sport.” But that was before his high school friend proved him wrong and beat Bakle left-handed, his weak side, in a challenge match. Bakle has been playing tennis for 50 years and is the captain of the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center’s 75 Division 1 team, which recently won the Senior Men’s Suncoast Tennis Division 1 Championship for the 2010-2011 season. Bakle also has a 23-0 record in the past two years.
How did you get involved in tennis?
A friend of mine, who was in high school, was the state singles champion for two or three years in a row. I used to call it a ‘sissy sport’ until one day he told me he would play me left-handed. Of course, he was a righty. He spotted me four games and beat me 6-4, and that’s when I knew I had a lot of hard work ahead of me to become a tennis player.
Is there a tennis player whom you really admire?
One of my favorite players is from Longboat Key, and his name is Fred Erman. I have learned so much from his professionalism on the court and his great strokes, which certainly have made me a better player over the past number of years.
What is the most important tip you’ve received when it comes to tennis?
I think one of the most important tips when playing tennis is to continually keep your eye on the ball.
What do you like best about tennis?
I think the fun part of the game is the competition. We’re all trying to win, and we all work extremely hard, and yet at the end of the match, it’s been fun and a great experience.
Contact Rachel S. O'Hara at [email protected]