At the Coggin Park tennis courts one recent morning, East Elementary School third-grader Brooklyn Cramer had a question for former Brownwood Lions tennis standout Piper Barberie.
“Why did you park in a different spot?” the 8-year-old girl asked Barberie, who graduated from Brownwood High School in May and is bound for Texas A&M University.
“Because someone else parked in my spot,” Barberie explained.
Brooklyn could be excused for asking a seemingly trivial question during the tennis lessons in which Barberie is the assistant instructor. After all, it was break time – and Brooklyn had been working hard at tennis under the direction of Barberie and veteran competitive tennis player Carol Roberts, the head instructor.
The lessons, known as Tennis in the Park, are provided free for youth ages 7 and older – as well as a free segment for beginner adults – by the Brownwood Parks and Recreation Department. The classes continue through Aug. 1, and it’s not too late to register and begin taking classes, Roberts said.
Class times are:
• 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. – beginner youth
• 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. – intermediate youth
• 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. – beginner adults
You can sign up at the Adams Street Community Center, 511 E. Adams Adams, or show up at Coggin Tennis Courts for the classes you’re interested in. Call the Parks and Recreation Office at 646-0146 for additional information.
Roberts has been playing tennis for 60 years and teaching the game for 15. She and her husband, Don, moved to Brownwood from San Antonio three years ago. Roberts has described tennis as a “lifetime sport” and said in an earlier interview she knows a man who played competitive tennis in his 80s.
“Oh, of course I am!” Roberts said when asked if she’s enjoying teaching the Coggin Park lessons. “It’s the beginning of a new hobby for some of the kids, instead of phones.”
Roberts stationed herself at the side of a court and watched as Barberie tossed balls for the fledgling tennis players to hit back to her across the net.
Roberts and Barberie kept up a constant stream of encouragement as they gave instructions on form and technique. “Oh, good forehand!” Roberts called at. “Oh my … two out of two ...”
During a break, Barberie said the beginners remind her of herself as a child. “I feel like I’m in the same boat. I can relate,” Barberie said.
“Competition is just really fun,” said Barberie, who still plays tournaments and will be playing intramural sports at Texas A&M. She plans to major in kinesiology wants to become an orthopedic surgeon.
When you compete in tennis, Barberie said, someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose – and when she loses, “I tell myself ‘this is only making me better,’” Barberie said.
She said she wants to be an orthopedic surgeon because she likes sports and she’s fascinated by bones. “I like tinkering around in the garage with my dad,” Barberie said, noting that the tools used by an orthopedic surgeon remind her of the tools she uses in the garage.
Referring to Brooklyn, Barberie said, “she’s our little co-captain.”
When asked what she likes about the lessons, the girl’s expression suggested that the answer should be obvious. “Tennis,” Brooklyn said.