Monday, September 01, 2014

How Old is Too Old to....?

do what, was a discussion on Fox TV today.  Play competitive tennis at the age of 89? NO, never too old.  I last wrote a blog on Super Senior Tennis on November, 2004. Much tennis happenings in the last 10 years.. Some sad happenings such as death of the editor of the quarterly new letter, Doug Crary, my European doubles partner one year, Jason Morton, of Phoenix, a world champion many times over, Tom Brown, a Wimbledon or U..S Open winner and my doubles partner on 9/11, and several dozen other senior champions who I had the pleasure of enjoying friendships and playing with or against in my 32 year of enjoying this most aerobic game.

I am fortunate to have the health and competitive spirit to compete and enjoy tennis at the age of 89. I played and won three out of four half hour matches today giving me 8 wins and 3 losses in my last three outings. We have a group that meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the clay courts at Glen Oak Park. Any age is welcome to play but most of the players are in their late 50's up to Doc Stafford who won't tell his age but is over 90. We play half an hour matches with winners moving up and everyone switches partners. Today we had twelve players and last Monday we had 17.

I first started playing tennis at age 55 with my former workmate at Widmers'  and and today a State Farm Insurance agent, Bob Humbles. Bob was a four letter winner at Manual and a star basketball player for Bradley. He is also a class act winner of many Tri-County tournaments, this year losing to Mario Palmeri, a local legend. Last year Bob beat Mario.

I have had considerable fortune in playing winning tennis tournaments in Peoria and all over this country, Canada, Cancun, Austria,  Bermuda, etc  accumulating approximately 225 awards. Locally, I won 5 Tri-County's, 5 Twin City Opens in Bloomington-Normal,  Pekin, and 8 championships at the Western Open in Danville. I twice was a finalist at the World Senior Games in St. George Utah,, won a Phoenix, Az. Senior open, and won several Phoenix Park District tournaments.

On 9/11, I was playing a National Tournament; there are 4 a year, clay, grass, indoor hard court and outdoor hard court, at the Army-Navy Club in Arlington, Va. where we witnessed the American Airlines plane piloted by Muslim terrorist seconds before it hit the Pentagon  A year later I was back to Arlington winning 4 singles matches in a 32 entry consolation bracket before losing a 3-setter in the semi-finals to the champion.

I was Peoria Country Club open winner, ( I once won 33 consecutive senior doubles sets at the club).  I won a number of Senior Olympics tournaments and a finalist in St. Louis losing to a national ranked player. I had pulled a hamstring winning 2nd in the long jump and was unable to play my finalist tennis match.

Bob Orr from Pekin and I won a Mid-west Sectional tournament (5 states)  at Lansing, Michigan in year 2000, winning 8 straight matches over three days. In a tournament at Baton Rouge, La. I won a 3 3/4 hour singles match but paid for it the next day by pulling a hamstring, disappointing my doubles partner now deceased, John Moorhouse who was Bradley tennis coach  for 10 years. Local notable finals wins were over John and Bob Orr in Twin-City singles finals.

I was several times kidded about why I couldn't beat Terry Glynn, a local legend and my only defense was that Terry was nine years younger than me. Same with John Seigrist, 10 years younger,another local legend who I lost all 3 tournament matches, all 3 setters

Anyway, what experiences! Playing against Pancho Gonzales, Torbin Ulrich, Hugh Stewart, Bob Sherman, Jason Morton, Bob Brown, Ed Kauder etc.,all once world ranked players. And once being selected to play the National Sectionals at Tuscon, Az. and being selected to represent the East in a tournament against the West at Morgan Run Country Club in lower California, playing at some of the best clubs in the country including the Foothills at Santa Barbara, Seattle Yacht and Tennis Club, Pinehurst, N;.C., clubs all over the Gulf Coast of Florida, Vancouver, Canada, Sn Diego, Bermuda Island, and Fountain Hills and Sun Lakes, AZ. where Claire and I owned a home.

If I am successful in winning my battle against cancer, (won't know until the end of October) I plan to play at least 2 National tournaments next year as I'm eligible to play in the 90's in January, 2015. And providing I can find a doubles I can no longer handle singles with my health problems recently mentioned. I'll also be playing at my favorite club, Payne Park, in downtown Sarasota. I had won 82 out 104 sets before returning to Peoria this spring.

So much to look forward to and remembering that "how old is too old" a myth as long as one can avoid pushing up daisies.

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