OurLife: Fridley women are experts on strings, both tennis and musical

By SUE WEBBER

Contributing Writer

Strings – whether they’re attached to tennis rackets or musical instruments – are the passion of choice for three Fridley women.

Connie Metcalf, Kathy Giese, and Agnes Wolf are all tennis players, and also members of the Northeast Orchestra.

Connie Metcalf

Connie Metcalf is a tennis player and also a violinist. (Photo by Sam Lenhart)

“Music has been my main love,” said Metcalf, a native of Rock Island, Ill., who relocated to the Twin Cities to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota and never left. She moved to Fridley in 1958.

Metcalf played in the orchestra at the University of Minnesota, and also has been a piano player and teacher.

“Now I play violin with the Northeast Orchestra,” she said. “It’s great fun.”

The group practices from 9 a.m. to noon each Friday at the Church of St. William in Fridley, and has four concerts a year.

Her affinity for tennis began in the ninth grade, and then resumed again after college, Metcalf said.

“Bob [her late husband] and I played together,” she said. “I even played while I was quite pregnant. When my three kids were older, I played in tournaments and foursomes at the Nicollet Tennis Center.”

Now she has four grandchildren. For the last three years, she has played weekly at the Public Indoor Tennis courts in Spring Lake Park. During the summer, she sometimes plays at Irondale High School in Mounds View.

“It’s really good exercise,” she said.

Metcalf majored in chemistry in college and worked in a pharmaceutical lab after graduation. She was asked to teach piano for a semester. She later taught piano at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.

Agnes Wolf

Agnes Wolf, the mother of five children and grandmother to 15, is a tennis player and violinist. (Photo by Sam Lenhart)

Agnes Wolf, 82, is a 51-year resident of Fridley who said she started playing tennis when she was 35, at the Nicollet Tennis Center. “I started more for fun,” she said.

Now, she plays tennis once a week in the winter at the Public Indoor Tennis courts in Spring Lake Park, and twice a week during the summer, at the tennis court at 79th and Osborne Road in Fridley.

“It’s really fun,” she said. Her husband (a retired dentist) played too, she said.

“Now I play tennis with my 28-year-old grandson,” she said.

Originally trained as a social worker, Wolf said she was already the mother of four of the couple’s five children by the time she graduated from college. Now she has 15 grandchildren. Two of the couple’s children are deceased.

Her musical training began with the violin in grade school. “My big sister played the piano, and I got a violin,” she said. “Our dad was from Ireland, where the violin was a social instrument.”

She has played violin in several community orchestras.

Wolf has been a longtime member of the League of Women Voters.

Kathy Giese

Kathy Giese, who began playing tennis as a child, was an elementary music teacher and now plays the cello. (Photo by Sam Lenhart)

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was a child,” said Kathy Giese, an eight-year resident of Fridley. “I got a lot of help through the Twin Cities Players Club.”

“My dad was a great tennis player, and my mom was pretty good, too,” she said. “We played at a city park within walking distance of our house in Dubuque, Iowa. My mom was a good table tennis player, too.”

In the winter, Giese plays indoor tennis once or twice a week at the Public Indoor Tennis courts in Spring Lake Park, she said. She plays outdoors in the summer time.

“A couple of years ago, the nets were hanging down at the courts on Moore Lake Park,” she said. “We called the city of Fridley and they got them right up and have maintained them ever since.”

Giese’s life in music centered on a 28-year career as an elementary music teacher in Iowa and Chicago. She joined the Northeast Orchestra seven years ago, as a cello player.

“I’ve taught a lot of piano and a little cello,” Giese said. “I love the organ.”

Public Indoor Tennis

Tim Jachymowski, owner of Public Indoor Tennis in Spring Lake Park, said “well over 100 seniors” spend time playing tennis there.

“We have a very good senior group,” he said. “We have one group of 25-30 seniors who play all year long.”

The facility offers regular senior doubles groups, as well as senior drills: 90 minutes for $8 per person includes a tennis instructor and carts of balls.

Senior drills are offered twice a week during the winter and weekly during the summer, Jachymowski said.

“In the winter we have 20-30 seniors a week at each drill,” he said. “In the summer, we get between 15 and 20. It’s all drop-in. We work with whoever comes.”

He confirmed that there’s no ceiling on the age for tennis players, noting that two of his facility’s senior female players are 92- and 90-years-old, respectively.