Bob Goss hits a return back to Tim Hoffnagle Thursday on the high school tennis courts. (Brad Mosher/The Observer)
When it comes to tennis, Bob Goss admits he still has a lot to learn.
He has only been playing the sport for about 10 years.
He just waited until he was 78 years old to pick up the racket.
He was back on the court Thursday at the La Grande High School tennis courts taking advantage of Tim Hoffnagle’s
Hoffnagle, a former LHS tennis coach, has a program offering tennis instruction on Monday and Thursday evenings at 6 p.m.
“Tennis is a lifetime sport and it is never too late to learn,” Hoffnagle said.
Goss is proving Hoffnagle right.
The octogenarian was out on the courts in spite of a cold crosswind that kept blowing a tennis cart with dozens of yellow tennis balls away from Hoffnagle and into the fence.
Goss admitted he’d recently missed a few chances to play on Tennis Night with Hoffnagle.
His wife came first. “She just made dinner,” he said with a smile.
Goss said when he came over to the courts after dinner, it was too late to get some tennis in.
Hoffnagle will be taking a break this week from his two-night weekly summer quest to improve tennis in the Grande Ronde Valley. His wife has a vacation planned.
When he returns, the former college tennis player will be back providing drills and instruction for people wanting to improve.
Goss is eager to continue his tennis time whenever he can. “You want to come out again when the wind is not blowing so bad?” he asked his evening tennis tutor Thursday. “It is really hard to play with the wind. We could hardly serve.
“We could try it again Monday,” Goss asked Hoffnagle, before being reminded that his tutor would be on his vacation. “You’re going to take time out (from tennis) for a vacation,” Goss said, smiling.
Hoffnagle said he is trying to get more children involved in tennis around the middle school ages so they can help prepare themselves to join school athletic teams.
“Tennis is the fastest growing sport in America, but you wouldn’t know it in La Grande,” Hoffnagle said.
Hoffnagle is charging a small fee for instruction. It is $2 for adults and $1 for children. All of the proceeds go to the middle and high school tennis programs.
Goss said he wished the school would fix up the tennis courts. “They could use a few things.”
But Hoffnagle said he is just hoping he can get more young players interested in playing over the summer so they can join their school teams.
Goss said he will be out on the courts all summer.