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Tennis takes a toll but doesn't stop Schroeder
Al Schroeder, 48, of Monroe enters the 45th annual city singles tournament as one of the top seeds. Schroeder is looking to win his third straight title and 11th overall in the past 14 years. To order this photo, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - The game of tennis has taken a toll on Al Schroeder.

Schroeder, 48, of Monroe still enters the 45th annual city singles tennis tournament Saturday as the favorite to win a third straight title in the Class A men's division. Schroeder has won 10 city singles championships in the past 13 years. The tournament is slated for Saturday and Sunday.

"I feel fortunate I can compete against a lot younger guys," Schroeder said. "You never know how many chances you will get. When you win the first time that will always be the most special. This could be my last chance of being a contender."

It won't be a cakewalk for Schroeder. Another top contender playing is Joe Soddy, the 2013 singles champion. It's been four years since both Schroeder and Soddy have been in the same city singles tournament field.

Schroeder has had success against Soddy, defeating him 7-6, 6-2 in the championship match in 2011 and edging him 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 in the title match in 2012.

"I have had some nagging injuries, but I have been able to flip the switch to win matches," he said.

Schroeder said his game has changed over the years.

"My body is taking more of a pounding," he said. "I'm not as quick as I used to be. I lost a half step in my speed. I don't have the same snap in my legs and arms. You lose some velocity on your serve."

Schroeder is playing in a USTA tennis league at a 4.5 level in Madison where he is 3-3 at No. 2 singles and his team is 5-2 and in second place. He's also planning on playing in tournaments in Janesville and Milwaukee in the fall.

After 20 years of playing tennis, Schroeder hasn't lost his passion for the game.

"I love the game," he said. "I love the power and explosion it takes. I like the hand-eye coordination part it takes. It's a challenge. Each opponent presents a different set of challenges."

He still is working as an insurance agent, but Schroeder said after another seven years, he may be ready to settle down and coach tennis. Schroeder has already served as a one-on-one coach for former Monroe High School tennis player Taylor Soddy, the brother of Joe Soddy. He also has worked and trained with Saeed Nowrasteh of Madison, who is ranked 30th in the country, and competed in a world championship in the 60- to 65-year-old division last week in Helsinki, Finland.

"I may convert to coaching in five to seven years," he said. "I definitely learned a lot."