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47-year-old Piedmont mom joins college tennis team

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- You could say Maureen Smith is a little more seasoned than the other players.

Some of her teammates and competitors are in their late teens and early 20s.

“I think I’m pretty athletic, able to keep up with the girls,” she said.

Smith, 47, went back to school -- enrolling at Guilford College when she was 43 -- but she recently decided to take her college experience to a new level.

At 46, she joined the Women’s Tennis Team at Guilford College.

“By the time you’re 47 or older in sports, most people are phasing out not coming in, so I kind of did it in reverse,” she said.

The move turned out to be a benefit for both Smith and her teammates.

Smith is best known to her friends, family and colleagues as “Sunshine” -- a fitting name for someone coaches say has become a bright spot on the team.

“It’s been great having her on the team. She brings a little wisdom and maturity to the team that sometimes it lacks other places,” head coach Dave McCain said.

“She has a really good relationship with all the girls on the team. They really rally around her and that’s something that I haven’t seen in a long time,” assistant coach Kim Kleimeier said.

“The whole team, the guys, the girls, the coaches just really came out and supported me,” Smith said.

Smith is a mother of four children ranging in ages from 15 to 29.

She will graduate in May with a degree in religious studies.

She plans to continue playing tennis after she graduates.