–By Dottie Robinson
HWTA is working toward a record 300 members for 2008, and there is one long-time member who deserves very special recognition. Born Betty Jean Dupuy, Betty Choate, a founding member of HWTA, celebrated her 80th birthday on June 20, 2008. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Earl, a NASA engineer, who moved the family to Huntsville in 1960. They have a daughter, Cathey, and a son, Mark, whose life was taken in 1977 in a rappelling accident at Three Caves. Cathey blessed Betty and Earl with three grandchildren who live in Madison.
Many of us began playing tennis in the Roselyn Donnelly/Brahan Spring era. Prior to Brahan Spring, tennis was played in downtown Huntsville on six Rubico courts in Big Spring Park. In 1966 Betty saw an announcement in the paper for tennis lessons being taught in Big Spring Park. Rose Roberts was the teacher and was also responsible for organizing HWTA in 1967. Dressed in ALL WHITE, the dress code of the era, and carrying her WOODEN tennis racket, Betty began her long love affair with tennis. Betty began playing league tennis in 1983-84 when Michelob was the sponsor, and has continued league play through today. In October, she and her current team participated in the State Super Senior Tournament here in Huntsville. When asked what motivates her to continue playing tennis, Betty said, “I continue to play because I love the game and the people I have met playing tennis. I have met so many people through tennis that I would never have met if I hadn’t played tennis.” Then when asked if she had a secret to good health, she said, “No, I just try to stay active playing tennis and riding my bike”.
In 42 years of playing tennis, Betty has played hundreds of matches, but the most memorable was around 1974, before the introduction of the tie-break. Betty Choate lost a grueling 3-set, 4-hour match to Betty Dooley 5-7, 11-9, 8-6!
Betty’s active life continues beyond the tennis courts. She and Earl have built a grass tennis court behind their lovely home in Madison, and they have also built a cabin and a windmill on the farm they own in Giles County, TN. Betty’s diverse and creative abilities are evident in the projects she and Earl undertake and complete. With the same regularity that Betty plays tennis with her friends and completes projects with Earl, she also enjoys playing bridge with her group of T&B Girls, a group of tennis players who have been together at the bridge table for many years.
So, the next time you see Betty Choate, wish her a belated happy Birthday, and ask her about the many other projects she has been involved in with family and friends. Congratulations, Betty, on 80 successful, active years.