Member Spotlight: John Compere, Walker Batts, Cal Samra, Peter Kobrak and Bart VanGiessen | West Hills Athletic Club

Member Spotlight: John Compere, Walker Batts, Cal Samra, Peter Kobrak and Bart VanGiessen

Photo of the over 80 tennis players.
Pictured from left to right: John Compere, Walker Batts, Cal Samra, Peter Kobrak and Bart VanGiessen.

Congrats guys—Over 80 and still got it!

"We share the love for tennis but mostly we share jokes and laughter. We don’t take things too seriously, including our tennis game." -Cal Samra

What do these five have in common? They are all over 80 and love the game of tennis. When I met with them, they had just gotten off the tennis courts and were enjoying some birthday cake to help celebrate John’s 88th birthday. John was one of the original owners of West Hills when it opened its doors in 1974. "It was only a tennis facility and the courts were carpeted." The men play tennis together every Saturday morning all year long. The original Saturday morning group started in 1985. "You’ve got to move it or lose it," John says.

"We are out there to have fun. We never leave upset, and we don’t keep track of wins or losses," said VanGiessen, who is a retired scientist. "It’s not only the exercise, but the social interaction and camaraderie we share each week that we believe has made us live longer."

Cal believes tennis has kept them alive. Peter, a retired professor of Government Politics from WMU counters, "We should put that a little differently, that sounds morbid. Let’s just agree that we feel that tennis has truly prolonged our life." They all seem to agree to that.

Walker, who is retired from a career in sales at Stryker, says, "It’s all about having fun."

After playing tennis, the men socialize in West Hills’ lobby. They discuss just about everything. "We solve all the world’s problems." Cal lightheartedly expresses. Cal, the jokester of the group has been the publisher of the "Joyful Noise Letter", a national humor newsletter for over 34 years. He is the only one in the group who still works full time. "We share the love for tennis but mostly we share jokes and laughter. We don’t take things too seriously, including our tennis game."

Whatever the secret is, they have mastered it. We look forward to seeing them on the tennis courts (and solving the world’s problems) for many more Saturdays to come.

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