The day the blizzard hit, 15 people were bashing backhand, lofting lobs and smashing serves at the indoor Buffalo Tennis Center downtown.

When they found out they couldn't leave, they simply made the best of a horrible situation. They kept on playing, all night long and on the house, demonstrating once again that one man's blizzard is another man's tennis heaven.

Two days after the storm, the joint was still jumping. No matter that snow kept cascading down, that most streets were inaccessible, that the wind chill was -50. The courts were at 60 per cent capacity.

"People were just going stir crazy," said Doug Wittmeyer, the manager. "It's tough for a tennis player to give up a court, you know what I mean? The only thing that killed us was the mayor's driving ban. We lost about $15,000 the week it was on. But some people actually walked to get here."

Business was not so good across town at the European Health Spa. "We closed down the first week after the storm and we have limited hours now because of the energy shortage," said Joseph Lacriso, the owner. "People should be exercising. But I've got to keep the heat down to 55. Nobody wants to exercise when it's that cold. Your hands stick to the weights."

The people in Buffalo should have gotten all the exercise they need this winter - shoveling snow. About 177 inches of the stuff has fallen already. There was one 53-day stretch when at least a trace of snow fell every day.

"I can honestly say I'm probably in the best shape of my life because of the shoveling," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. John Gentry. "If you don't do it regularly, obviously, it's dangerous. We've had quite a few heart attacks and it happens every winter."

Staying in playing shape has been a definite problem for the players on the city's two professional winter sports teams. Because of postponements, the driving ban and inaccessible roads, both the Sabres and Braves went long stretches without games or practices.

"About the only good thing that happened was that all the guys had a little extra time to get over their bumps and bruises," said Sabre winger Danny Gare. "You get out on skates after you haven't done it for a few days and your legs really go fast.

"We were really sluggish the first time we played after the blizzard," said Adrian Dantley of the Braves. "It took awhile to get your wind and we're just now coming out of it.

"But it didn't really bother me too much. I had 29 (points) against Milwaukee in the first game. I couldn't have been that out of shape."