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Tennis can be a challenging sport. Whacking a fuzzy, yellow ball can also be a welcome distraction. So it was that on April 9 Heather Locklear and her daughter Ava met friends for a doubles match at a club near their Westlake Village, Calif., home. Mother and daughter were partners, but as Ava played hard every shot, Mom took a more therapeutic approach. "No one is really keeping track," Locklear kept reminding her daughter. "Heather was laughing and hitting the ball too far or too high," says one eyewitness. "It made her hysterical."

She could use a good laugh. Two months after filing for divorce from her husband of 11 years, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, 46, and a month after a custody filing (he's asking for joint custody; she wants him to have visitation rights only) Locklear is getting her groove back. "She has a really positive, upbeat attitude," a friend says of the actress. "She wants to get this divorce behind her and move on."

That journey includes not only spending time with Ava, 8, but also working on her new TV pilot, Women of a Certain Age, in which Locklear plays a recently widowed woman who embarks on a new life with her two best friends and even dabbles in the singles scene. On March 24 Locklear, 44, engaged in an all-out smooch session with actor David Spade, 41, at a party at Jones restaurant and bar in West Hollywood to celebrate Spade's Comedy Central program The Showbiz Show. While the actual lip lock isn't in dispute, the meaning is open to interpretation. A source close to the situation says the longtime pals have been "spending time together," but things haven't reached the full-blown "dating" stage. Another friend of Locklear's downplays any notion of romance. "Heather and David were just goofing off; the whole thing was blown out of proportion," says the friend. "They were joking around and hamming it up, and the next thing you know, people are saying they're together." Whatever Locklear's relationship status, all sources agree on one thing: Her main concern right now is her daughter. "Divorce is a tough thing for a child to handle," says the friend. "Heather wants to make sure that everything is okay for Ava."