Boardman women set for Cleveland event
By Brandon Judeh
Twenty years of friendship and 15 years of tennis have led two best friends to the 2013 National Senior Games Presented by Humana in Cleveland Friday through July 29.
Diane Yazvac and Joni Blase, both of Boardman, started playing tennis a decade and a half ago when Yazvac took up the sport and encouraged Joni to join her.
“I decided that I wanted to do something different, something competitive, so I took up tennis,” said Yazvac. “Soon after I asked Joni [Blase] to join me, she did and the rest is history.”
Not only are the two best friends, but they are also neighbors. In fact, Yazvac bought Blase’s house and Blase moved into the house across the street.
“We are both really close; not only do we play tennis together five or six times a week, but we also walk together and spend a lot of time with each other,” said Blase.
Their love of tennis has taken them to the National Senior Games in Cleveland, the pair qualified in both singles and doubles last year when they went to Kentucky and qualified for the tournament.
Their spot in the games came as a shock for both ladies.
“We were both very surprised, but very happy,” Yazvac said. “We just wanted to go down and try it, have some fun and see what happened. Fortunately we qualified.”
Yazvac and Blase both received gold medals and Yazvac added a silver medal.
The tandem will be competing in the 50-54-year-old age group in doubles, while Blase will play in the 55-59-year-old bracket in singles and Yazvac will participate in the 50-54-year-old group.
“Now that we have qualified our goal is to play our best, be competitive and see what happens,” Yazvac said.
Yazvac first discovered the Senior Games when her late father, Paul Prosnick, won medals in the games in the past. She says that this got her interested in participating in the event.
“My father, who passed away last year, really inspired me to want to do this,” added Yazvac. “Seeing him win medals at the event was amazing and I figured why not try and qualify and see if I can win some too.”
For Blase, the Senior Games are a chance for her to participate in an event she has been interested in and will finally have a chance to play in.
“The Senior Games are very inspiring to me, to see older people out there being competitive is so great. I can’t wait to get out there and play and see what happens,” Blase said.
The friends are two of only a handful of tennis players that qualified from the state of Ohio.
“It’s an honor to be two of the few to qualify from Ohio,” Blase said. “We hope to represent the state well. Who knows, maybe we can come away with some medals.”
For more information on tennis and other games being played at the National Senior Games visit nsga.com.