Adult / Senior Tennis Spotlight – Colleen Ferrell
Colleen Clery Ferrell hates losing just as much as the next person, but not winning is especially hard to take when it involves her hometown San Diego Chargers.
Originally from Chicago, Ferrell admits she jumped on her hometown NFL team’s bandwagon nearly 35 years ago after arriving in sunny San Diego where she’s been ever since, including serving the past 10 years as the director of the Balboa Tennis Club.
“I’m a pretty diehard fan,” she said on a recent Sunday, right after the Chargers had fallen to their AFC East rivals the Denver Broncos. “I hate to lose just like everyone else in this town. But I still support them no matter what.”
An admitted late-comer to the game of tennis, Ferrell set out for warmer weather after transferring from the University of Illinois to play for the University of Arizona for her final two years of college.
With her eligibility up, Ferrell came further west and began playing tennis at the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club, while bartending there on the side for extra money.
Ferrell met some members who knew it was her dream to give the pro tour a shot. Those members invested in her travel and Ferrell was given the opportunity to test her skills at the professional level.
“They knew that I wanted to play the tour, and that it was my dream,” Ferrell said. “I came to the game late. My father passed away while I was in college. I was determined to succeed at something in life as a dedication to him so I chose tennis. I threw myself into tennis and played six or seven hours a day. I was obsessed with becoming the best player possible.. In retrospect, I’m happy I had the opportunity to try the tour.
“People ask me if I ever played Chris Evert; I never did get to play a top player,” she added. “But I had a taste of the travel and the lifestyle and I lasted nine months. I didn’t have any coaching and I was on my own, but I was able to beat two players ranked in the top 300 in the world.”
Ferrell eventually graduated from San Diego State with a journalism degree and spent 20 years teaching tennis at Vacation Village, now Paradise Point Resort.
Ferrell retired from there and went into hotel sales for two years. About 10 years ago, a former student called Ferrell and told her there was an opening at Balboa that she thought would be a good fit for her.
“It was perfect for my skill set and everything I had done in the past, from management to being a player and just being in the industry for a long time,” she said. “I’m just so happy to be at Balboa. I love the tennis environment and it’s been a perfect job for me at this time in my life.”
Ferrell has two high-school aged children, and spends a lot of time on the court with daughter Cassidy, who is attempting to earn a scholarship to play college tennis.
For the past two years, she has served as the coordinator for the Southern California teams (35s to 80s) that recently competed in the National Senior Women’s Intersectionals in San Antonio, Texas.
The 75s SoCal team brought home the gold, the 65s won the bronze and Ferrell played on the 55 team which won silver.
“I love the challenge of Intersectional competition and have been a part of the teams as a player on and off for the past nine years,” Ferrell said. “It’s such a great event and an honor to represent Southern California. I have seen the interest continue to grow as more players see the opportunity to compete against other regions of the country in a team event as a great experience.”
Memberships at Balboa have fluctuated between 1,200 to 1,400 members in the years Ferrell has been the director. The public facility costs just $6 for an adult day pass that anyone has access to and overall attracts players locally and nearly 6000 visitors annually.
“The Club is always looking to get better and to improve,” Ferrell said. “We have five major tournaments that we sponsor during the year, over 30 league teams and a terrific board of Directors who strive to keep the Club as one of the best public facilities in the country.”
The Balboa Tennis Club also runs weekly military wounded, ill and injured classes. Last spring, the Club held The 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior Tennis Camp that hosted active duty and veterans from all branches of the armed services. The camp is run by Balboa Tennis Club Tennis Director Geoff Griffin and San Diego District Tennis Association President Steve Kappes.
“They just finished a mini wheelchair camp with about 20 players in October,” Ferrell said. “They really put on a great show for these guys who have done so much for our country. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and we are proud to have the Wounded Warrior’s at our club.”