Donna Schoenmaekers at Grovedale Tennis Club. (Ivan Kemp) 249629_03

Tennis Geelong president Donna Schoenmaekers, the woman behind the Independent’s weekly tennis column, returns serve to Luke Voogt in this week’s My Geelong.

Tell us about you…

I grew up in Portland and moved to Geelong to go to Deakin University.

I spent a little bit of time in Melbourne, then moved back to Geelong after Jason and I got married, in 2001.

Jason grew up in Gippsland, and with both of us being from regional areas, Melbourne didn’t suit us.

Living in Geelong allowed us to continue to work in our jobs, while enjoying the more relaxed regional lifestyle.

Jason and I lived in Grovedale for 16 years, and moved to Mount Duneed four years ago with our three children.

After commuting to Melbourne for work for several years, I was able to secure a job closer to home at Geelong refinery in the laboratory.

How did you get involved in tennis?

I have been involved in tennis since I was eight-years-old.

I used to play on the road with my siblings and family friends while our parents played their summer pennants, then progressed into junior tennis, and as a teenager moved into the senior ranks.

Growing up in Portland, we had a great coach in Bruce Elijah, who was a huge factor in the popularity and growth of junior tennis in the town.

I particularly remember the summer school holiday squad, which would run Monday to Thursday and finish with a tournament on Friday, which kids from Warrnambool and Hamilton would also attend.

These were great social events as well as an opportunity to play against different people.

Tennis is a sport for everyone, and it’s one of the few sports where parents can play in the same team as their kids.

It doesn’t matter how good you are or how old you are, there is always someone at the same level as you.

Growing up, my favourite tennis player was Steffi Graf, and these days I love watching Stan Wawrinka, especially his one-handed backhand, and Ash Barty.

How did you become Tennis Geelong president?

Since 2003 I have been involved with Grovedale Tennis Club, one of the clubs within Tennis Geelong.

Tennis Geelong is an amalgamation of the Churches, Bannockburn, Bellarine and Coast associations, and has been running for over 100 years.

I became involved with Tennis Geelong five years ago, and have been president for four.

I got involved because I saw an opportunity to help with the expansion of opportunities to play, like our new triples competition.

What are your favourite things to do locally?

We love food and wine, so we love visiting the various wineries and eateries across the area.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

I’ve still been able to attend work onsite, so this ability to leave the house for work gives a sense of normality.

I’m happy being a homebody, so personally I’m coping OK. But it would be nice to be able to see people in-person in a social environment again.

What’s something about you that people might not know?

I can juggle.