Cancer changes Angel Fire tennis pro’s outlook

By Gabriel Weinstein<br />Staff writer

ANGEL FIRE— Tennis has never come easier to Brett Hall, who is in his third season as director of tennis at Angel Fire Resort, since his diagnosis with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), an incurable form of cancer. Hall approaches his volleys, serves and ground strokes with a new sense of appreciation.

“Nothing bothers me anymore,” he said. “I don’t sweat anything…on or off the court. I’m competitive but I like to have fun. That’s probably more accentuated now.”

Hall learned he had CLL in 2012 during a doctor appointment in preparation for a hip replacement procedure. His doctor was concerned about his white blood cell count and sent him to an oncologist who determined he had cancer. Shortly after he received his diagnosis, Hall decided he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to advocating for cancer awareness. In addition to his own cancer battle, Hall lost his mother to cervical cancer when he was a senior at West Texas A&M University in 1977.

For Hall, tennis was a natural choice as an advocacy tool. He has used the game as a teaching tool throughout his 35-year career as a tennis professional in Texas, Arizona, Oregon and New Mexico.

“Tennis is just like life,” he said. “You have good days and bad days. You have to learn how to handle adversity. All these things have definitely helped me cope with it.”

For the second year, Hall and the resort are putting on the Texas Shootout July 26-July 27 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Hall and the other organizers hope to raise $15,000 toward cancer research. At press time they had raised $2,233. Next year Hall said he hopes to bring a group down from Oregon to participate in the tournament.

After his diagnosis Hall said he went through shock, anger, and eventually acceptance. The news was especially devastating since Hall always led a healthy and active lifestyle.

Instead of letting his illness dictate his life, Hall has chosen to continue seeking new challenges. He recently completed his first year as the tennis coach at West Albany High School in Albany, Oregon. Working with high school students has rejuvenated Hall. Watching their coach grapple with cancer has inspired his athletes to lift their games.

“They’re very positive and accepting,” he said. “They try a little harder.”

Between his doctor appointments in Oregon, New Mexico and Mexico, Hall has made a point over the past two years to strengthen old relationships.

“I’m a lot closer to my friends and family. It’s intensified,” he said. “That’s been a very positive thing.”

 The relationships Hall has formed with his clients and coworkers at Angel Fire Resort have played a crucial role in helping him rebound.

“It’s such a positive environment,” he said. “They have been so supportive of me and my disease and the tennis program. They have been so supportive of this tournament. The environment that I’m in down here.… It’s like family.” 

To learn more about the Texas Shootout’s entrance fees, prizes and the scoring system visit <a href=”http://or.texasshootout.llsevent.org/”>or.texasshootout.llsevent.org/</a> or contact Brett Hall at <a href=”mailto:bhall@angelfireresort.com”>bhall@angelfireresort.com</a> and 503-930-7258.