November 8th, 2017
Auto-immune Issues, Gators Can’t Stop Naples Player from 27 USTA League Tennis Teams
“Now that you point the number out, it does seem excessive, doesn’t it,” says Susanne Navarro. “I guess I just love the game!”
Last year the Naples resident was the queen of USTA Florida Leagues, playing on the most league teams, 27, of any player in the state. An early run-in with an alligator and combating multiple auto-immune disease conditions haven’t dissuaded Navarro from tennis. She credits the daily exercises and health benefits of tennis with keeping her conditions at bay, 10 years after taking up the sport seriously.
“The main reason I choose to play so much is that I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases,” Navarro says. “The daily exercise makes me feel better and helps to eliminate the need for major medications. Like most tennis players, when I take a break from tennis, I can feel myself stiffen up and I can’t wait to get back on the court.”
When she first moved to Florida and took up USTA League play she was welcomed by a local resident who jumped on their court, but not to play doubles.
“I was playing a match when an alligator from a nearby pond came onto my court,” she says. “My match had to be continued on another day, as the alligator would not move off of the court and we were not comfortable trying to scare him away.
“I don’t even remember if I won or lost that match,” she laughs. “What a hindrance!”
Navarro captains almost all the teams she plays on, and competes at all levels from 18 & Over to 55 & Over, saying the latter is her favorite.
“Given my age, the 55 & Over is now definitely my favorite,” says Navarro, whose team will compete later this month at the USTA League 55 & Over National Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. “As a captain I especially like the fact that we only need three courts per match and I don’t have to struggle finding singles players for this league. I also have had the most personal success with the 55 & Over leagues as I have advanced to USTA League Nationals twice so far.”
Playing and captaining numerous teams has also opened-up her social calendar. One of her teams celebrates everyone’s birthday, while another team’s players frequent the same book club. Some take vacation trips together.
“I have met and befriended some of the nicest players,” she says. “I met most of my closest friends in Naples as a result of playing USTA League matches, so I highly recommend it to players of all levels. Even at my advanced age, team spirit is still so much fun!”
To find an upcoming 2018 USTA League in your area go to www.ustaflorida.com/local-contacts/?contact_program=usta-leagues.