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Love match: Passion for the sport of tennis has lead a To’hajiilee couple to turn their home into a courtside affair

Charles and Francine Morris have their own tennis court in the backyard of their home in To’hajiilee. ((Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Charles,70, and Francine Morris, 69, are New Yorkers.

When they settled in New Mexico 20 years ago they didn’t ease into tennis. They went at it full bore, as did their offspring.

Their daughter Melissa, 42, hits tennis balls regularly at the Lobo Tennis Club. Their grandson Ezekiel is a standout competitor on the boys’ tennis team at Sandia High School.

When they arrived in New Mexico, the Morrises settled on 40 acres in To’hajiilee. Their house sits on an isolated stretch of land not far from the Navajo Reservation.

Though they reside 37 miles from Albuquerque, on clear days, the Morrises can see the outline of the Sandia Mountains. The couple has horses and chickens. Ten years ago, Charles and Francine decided to have their own tennis court installed just out their back door. The court has everything save for wind screens.

“If you get up before 10 a.m. it’s pretty calm around here,” Charles Morris says of the immaculate court. “Later in the day the wind picks up. We’re going to get screens for our court at some point,” he says.

Sports were important when both Morrises were growing up.

They met in the fourth grade at Copiague Elementary School, on Long Island, New York. They both worked in the emergency medical field. Charles is now retired, while Francine continues to work as a nurse. The two of them grew up playing sports.

Charles Morris plays on his own tennis court in the backyard of his home in To’hajiilee. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Tennis quickly became something they have come to love.

“I played football and track and other sports but you can get tired or hurt in those sports.” Charles Morris says. “I know I can play tennis for the rest of my life. Francine feels that way at well.”

The couple enjoy playing mixed doubles. “We’re competitive,” says Charles Morris. “I think we both know our limitations. We’ve never had an argument on the court. She’s told me at times she understands what we’ve had to do. I have played a little more than her. We’re going to play tennis at the Senior Olympics this summer at Las Cruces.”

They will play mixed doubles together and Francine will also enter running events. Charles has played Super Senior Tennis for three years. Francine started going to it last year.

“Playing tennis is harder that I thought it would be,” Francine Morris says. “It’s a challenge. As long as I’m in shape, I’m OK. We both like to play and to win. If Charles has something to tell me on the court, I just tell him to be quiet. He’s played more than me. Once I retire, I will be playing more. I am retiring next May from Acoma ACL Hospital.”

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