Jim Edwards, a tennis instructor with the City of Berkeley, who has taught young and old alike for the last 32 years, knows a thing or two about staying in step and playing your best game. Helping his students learn the fundamentals of tennis, Edwards also helps them cultivate the self-discipline and confidence necessary to succeed in any endeavor. Part of that success, Edwards contends, is knowing how to relax and rejuvenate. He dropped the ball just long enough to disclose his top five ways to unwind in Berkeley.
High on Edwards’ list is a good game of golf. There’s nothing for him that quite matches the satisfaction — the rhythm, skill, and enjoyment — that comes from a long afternoon on the golf course. For years, Edwards patronized the Tilden Park Golf Course, enjoying the serene setting and close proximity to his work. “It’s just a beautiful course, up there in Tilden, and I played there almost every day when I was starting out,” Edwards said. “It’s difficult terrain for a novice to navigate though, and the course has gotten less friendly in recent years.”
Before he landed on tennis as a career, Edwards studied film in college and still loves the art of cinema. Catching a good flick a couple of times a week is mandatory for Edwards and he loves the Shattuck Theater, downtown, for its commitment to quirkier, small-budget, independent films. “Before tennis took over my life, I was a film major and thought I might be the next big filmmaker,” Edwards said, laughing. “I keep up with all the new movies, though. Sometimes I’ll pick an afternoon and stay in the theater for three movies running. Just get a tub of popcorn and watch them back to back.”
Edwards loves the Bay Area, its beauty and wildlife, and taking long drives in the nearby hills is another of his favorite diversions. "Berkeley has so much nature close by,” Edwards proclaimed. “Water, mountains, trees, we’ve got it all.” He likes to hop in his car, drive in any direction for a little bit, and “Discover what so many others take for granted,” Edwards said, shaking his head wistfully. “I’ve seen hawks, coyotes, rattlesnakes, even a mountain lion — all those critters are out there.”
Similarly, Edwards loves nothing more than hanging out at Live Oak Park, where he teaches most of his lessons, talking with the many friends he has made over the years, and gabbing with his students while readying himself for work. “The kids and the park are my tonic for life,” Edwards said, assuming a serious tone. “Truly, they’re my medicine, my anti-depressant, my vitamins.”
The last way Edwards unwinds, ironically, is by working. “My job has been my life for 32 years,” Edwards proclaimed. “After all that time, I’m sort of addicted to teaching, to being out there on the courts with my students.” Edwards has a fondness for his senior students, insisting they are stronger and more vigorous than many of his teen-aged players. “I have so much love and respect for my grandmas,” Edwards said, nodding his head to punctuate the seriousness of his statement. “I call them my ‘antiques’ because they’re old and beautiful and strong — and, age aside, they’re my best players!”