Racket Sports: Cheryl Meyer can keep up with players half her age - The Buffalo News

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Racket Sports: Cheryl Meyer can keep up with players half her age

Cheryl Meyer is without a doubt one of the finest female athletes to have ever played sports in Western New York.

She has excelled in figure skating, basketball, golf (nine handicap), softball, soccer, field hockey, squash and tennis. Meyer mostly sticks to tennis now, and she has performed well against players much younger than she is.

Her all-around tennis game is highlighted by a devastating tennis forehand that is hit like a squash shot (with a great amount of under spin). Meyer, who has a USTA ranking between 4.0 and 4.5, is a physical marvel. Why? She is 5-foot-2 and is 63 years old.

As a youngster Meyer started ice skating at the age of eight. She lived in Lake Placid for four months of the year for four years and did well in regional competition. Meyer continued skating in competitions until she was 16. Unfortunately, she came down with hepatitis and her skating career was virtually over.

“Of course I was disappointed,” Meyer said. “The competition level was great and without a doubt it was the most difficult sport I have ever done.”

However, once she felt better, she participated in field hockey, basketball, softball and soccer at Park School. Meyer earned an incredible 15 varsity letters and was known for being a player who was recognized for playing her best under pressure. After graduation from Park she went to the University of Buffalo where she played varsity field hockey and attained her MBA. Meyer finished with a straight A average.

At the age of 25 Meyer worked for Merchants Insurance Company for 15 years. “I was in charge of close to 500 people and traveled all over the world for the business,” she said. “I then worked for FCS Administrators for five years as president of the corporation and for Wall Street for 10 years.”

When Meyer was in her late 20s she started playing squash at the University Club because many of her friends were there and it was good for business purposes. It kept her in shape, too. Meyer loved the speed of the squash ball and the strategy of the game. She played mostly against men who outweighed her by 50 pounds and were almost a foot taller: “I competed well against the men and more than held my own.”

Unfortunately, the University Club closed after Meyer had been there for 17 years. She joined the Tennis & Squash Club where she won seven club championships in both singles and doubles in squash.

Even though Meyer had played a little tennis, she started playing seriously at the age of 40. She was hitting her ground strokes with heavy topspin and it was evident that she was going to become an outstanding player in a short time. Unfortunately, she had a serious hand injury that needed surgery. When Meyer resumed playing tennis she couldn’t hit a topspin forehand because of the operation. She then started hitting her forehand like a squash shot forehand with plenty of underspin. Her tennis game improved by leaps and bounds and she was club tennis champion 14 times in singles and four times in doubles.

For the past two years she has been playing tennis, both singles and doubles, at the Village Glen 5-6 times a week. On the days that she doesn’t play she walks 6-8 miles. She loves the camaraderie of the players at the Glen and enjoys taking lessons from the pros at the club.

Meyer feels that the secret to her success in her personal life and in sports is that she always has looked at the positive aspects of life and people; both at work and on the court. As for her own game, if she misses a shot she says to herself, “Okay, you missed the shot. Forget about it and play the next point to the best of your ability and keep your head in the game.” She also stressed that tennis players should go for their shots when the opportunity arises and to play hard regardless of the score, and play to their strengths. Most important, win or lose, congratulate your opponents on a well-played match.

“Cheryl’s tennis forehand is amazing,” said Rob Gregiore, the head tennis pro at Village Glen. “It is like a laser coming at you. She is a great strategist and extremely coachable. She hits with our top juniors and more than holds her own with them. Best of all she is generous with her time and passes her wisdom on to the students in our tennis program.”

Pickleball Championships set

The New York State Pickleball Championships will be held at Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville from July 14-16.

There will be many events for players from beginners to advanced players. Go to BuffaloPickleball.com and click on the registration form to enter. You may also call Jason Santerre, tournament director, for information. More than 230 players are expected to play in the tournament.

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