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Get in the Game

Matti Sperry & Jamie Knoph share their tennis and pickleball origin stories and tips on how to get in the game

Article by Caitlyn Olson

Photography by Tiara Rose Photography

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

When you think of something so satisfying that you can’t help but smile, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For Matti Sperry, Head Tennis Pro at the Greeley Country Club (GCC), perfection is “a really good forehand.”

Over the last year, the GCC has worked tirelessly renovating its state-of-the-art amenities for members to enjoy. From their world-class golf course and indoor golf simulators to their pristine tennis and pickleball courts, GCC members love all that the club has to offer. Sperry says, “The [tennis] facility is beautiful. It’s somewhere you can go to escape the noise and just work on your game.”

With five outdoor tennis courts and two pickleball courts, Jamie Knoph, competitive pickleball player, and Matti Sperry are two women who take full advantage of the facilities at the GCC and want to help you get in the game.

What is your tennis origin story? 

I started playing tennis at 5.  I played 10-15 tournaments a year until high school; I was ranked in the top 10 for most of those years. After high school, I had various opportunities to continue playing in college but turned them all down due to my partially torn rotator cuff. I got a coaching job at the Harvest House, and my boss/mentor pushed me to continue my career. It was one of the first times I had been coached at that level, and it brought back my love for the game. I tried out for the CU women's team and made it. I went on to have a winning record for two years at CU Boulder in the PAC 12 division.

How did you get involved with the GCC?

Having grown up in the area, I wanted to help get tennis going in the Greeley area again. Tennis was huge in the 90s/early 2000s, but it’s kind of fallen by the wayside since. I became Head Tennis Pro at the end of the summer last year. I like that the club has a clean slate for tennis and pickleball. There hasn’t been much movement on these courts in a long time, so seeing the energy come back last fall was awesome. I hope it’ll continue this summer!

Why should people play tennis?

Tennis is a sport that anyone can play forever. It challenges you physically and mentally on and off the court. It changes with you in all walks of life!

What would you tell someone who is interested in getting started? 

Just start! Sign up for a class or a private lesson. There are many great tennis coaches in this area, but if you are a member of the Greeley Country Club, I would love to hit with you and help you reach your goals!

How did you get into pickleball?

While playing league tennis in 2011, one of our teammates left our team to play pickleball. “Pickleball?  What is that?” I thought.  She started telling me how much fun it was and that I should come try it out.  The Greeley Rec Center was teaching pickleball in the auxiliary gym to new players, so I went to try it out. I stepped on the court that day and haven’t stopped playing since.  It was the most fun sport I have experienced that was so easily learned. I had no idea how much it would change my life.

What makes pickleball unique? 

Pickleball is unique in that it can be very competitive depending on what level of play is on the court, but it is much more than winning or losing games – it is about sportsmanship, friendships, and laughter. This sport crosses generations.  Kids can play with adults.  Grandkids can play with their grandparents. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.  The equipment is fairly simple; all you need is a paddle, a pair of tennis shoes, and a court. 

What would you tell someone who is interested in getting started? 

If you’re interested in playing pickleball, reach out to a current player. Pickleball is easily taught – friends can teach friends, or you can turn to a professional instructor for advanced instruction. I love that the GCC now has incorporated pickleball courts.  I have brought many friends to play here and what is great is that we can head up to the clubhouse for lunch and refreshments after.

  • Jamie Knoph, competitive pickleball player
  • Jamie Knoph, competitive pickleball player
  • Matti Sperry, Head Tennis Pro, GCC
  • Matti Sperry, Head Tennis Pro, GCC