Coach goes 'old school' while recruiting tennis players for GCU

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Valley women return to college, hit the courts

"She helped me and the team turn a 1 and 14 program around before I took the job to a team that made it to the nationals last year," explains Greg Prudhomme.

He is talking about 60-year-old Shelia Johnson who was one of his top tennis players at Grand Canyon University last season. He adds, "The age was checked in at the gate."

As a matter of fact Prudhomme is not shy about going "old school" when it comes to recruiting students to playing tennis in the NCAA division 2. This season he has two more women joining in on the fun. Karen Peltin admits, "I don't feel like I'm 42. I feel really fortunate that I have taken good care of myself, so I feel energetic, I feel healthy and I don't feel that much older than them."

Playing tennis her whole life Peltin says she does not feel the least bit intimidated by taking on players half her age. "Greg is a great motivator. He has the best mindset to get us all excited about it and help us to know that we can do it," Peltin explains.

She is not alone when it comes to being one of the oldest on the team. The coach's wife, 33-year-old Mandy Prudhomme, is also on the rooster. While they are not your average college-age athletes, the two can play because they have not used up all of their eligibility. Mandy says, "I would have been excited to go back to school and get a degree, but playing tennis was what I was really excited about." Her husband adds, "She's a mother. She has her own business. We've got three kids. I've got two full-time jobs so hey throw in college and college sports and we hardly know it's there."< /p>

The two ladies hit the court four to five days a week with their teammates at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale all while juggling schoolwork. Peltin admits, "It's balancing a husband, kids and the school is definitely a lot of work, but at the same time it's interesting and exciting."

So how do the younger players feel about Mandy and Peltin? Veronica Brunk tells 3TV, "It's an inspiration for all of us. It doesn't matter how old you are if you've got it, come back and let it happen."

Mandy says, "I don't see us as a group of several different ages, I pretty much see us as a team."

As for the opponents who think being older means an easy win, Prudhomme says think again. "Anyone who knows tennis well enough knows you can't judge the book by the cover. You can't judge your opponent by their strokes, their racquet and know you can't judge them by their age."

They kicked off their season on Friday.