Blaine realtor, ‘69-and-holding,’ wins two silver medals at senior tennis event
By Tara Nelson
Joyce Vanderpol’s secret to good living involves healthy competition, positive thinking, and staying busy – even during one’s later years. The petite “69 and holding”-year-old recently took home two silver medals in the women’s singles and women’s doubles tennis competition at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, October 9.
Being second isn’t so bad when your competitor is a world champion. Vanderpol said she played Rita Price, of Texas, who remains the world champion of women’s singles tennis in the same age category.
She also played several matches with her tennis partner Caye Inglis, of Lynden, with whom she flew from Bellingham to Las Vegas. Once there, they rented a car and drove to St. George.
“We had a great time,” she said. “It was good to get away. After a year and a half without a vacation, I figured it was about time.”
To train for the event, Vanderpol said she continued her regular schedule of tennis four times per week and also had personalized coaching from Semiahmoo tennis pro Eric Cramer. In her spare time, Vanderpol owns and operates Vanderpol Realty in Blaine.
“It was an exciting time,” Vanderpol said. “I’ve played in other tournaments but this is the first one I’ve played in several years. I just thought I’d better start entering tournaments.”
Being competitive, however, is second nature to Vanderpol. Just last August, she played 105 games in three singles matches and three doubles matches during two days – in hot, muggy weather – along with her identical twin sister Renie Hill, of Bellingham.
Vanderpol began her working career employed with several government entities while her husband served in the U.S. Navy. The two moved frequently but eventually settled in Blaine in 1973, where Vanderpol got a job as an administrative assistant for the port director at the U.S. Customs Peace Arch port of entry.
In 1981, she retired from U.S. Customs and enrolled in Whatcom Community College to earn an associate of arts degree in administration.
Two years later, she earned her real estate license and began working as an agent for a local real estate broker. In 1985 – four years after she retired – she opened Vanderpol Realty on Peace Portal Drive. Looking back, she said she just wanted to keep busy.
“I think if you retire and you stay home it has a negative impact on your health,” she said. “And I think you actually age quicker doing that rather than staying busy.”
Vanderpol, however, has done more than just keep busy. In 1987, she started the Skywater Tennis Tournament – the profits of which she donated to the Blaine Chamber of Commerce – served five years on the Blaine airport commission, two years on the Blaine Chamber of Commerce board, and one year on the Blaine parks commission board.
In addition, she frequently competes in local tennis matches, once beating a few Blaine high school girls during a match at Semiahmoo Tennis Club and was a finalist in the Bellingham City Open Women’s B Doubles last year.
Today, Vanderpol performs the duties of a full-time realtor, agent, accountant and secretary all within a standard 40-hour workweek. In addition, she makes time to play golf, lift weights as part of a regular workout regimen and compete in pool tournaments at the senior center.
When asked how she maintains her energy and sharp wit, Vanderpol credits lots of physical activity, positive thinking and competition both in tennis and in life.
“I like to look on the good side,” she said. “I don’t let little things get me down, or at least, I try not to. Exercising also keeps you feeling young and good and healthy, and I think being competitive makes me want to stay healthy. Being positive about things is half the battle.”
The Huntsman World Senior Games is an Olympic-format, international sporting event for athletes ages 50 years and older. Founded more than 20 years ago, the games currently hosts over 9,500 athletes annually. The event is held each October for two weeks in colorful St. George, Utah.
Organizers estimated as many as 9,700 participants from 50 states and 20 foreign countries who participated in 25 sports. The majority of the participants were male – about 66 percent – and the average age was 64 years “young.”
For additional information on the games, call 800/562-1268 or visit www.seniorgames.net.
Vanderpol Realty is located at 289 H Street and can be reached by calling 332-1169.