Tennis may be one of the more physically demanding and competitive sports at the B.C. Seniors Games next week.
Players endure scorching temperatures and torturous rallies that is hard on a body of any age, but that’s precisely what two local septuagenarians are looking forward to this week.
The dynamic duo of Fruitvale’s Jean Ashworth and Trail’s Ron Cameron have participated in about 15 B.C. Seniors Games and won medals of every colour but that really isn’t what the two are looking for.
“It’s not about winning at all, it’s more about the social aspect and competing, that’s really what we’re here for,” said the 75-year-old Ashworth.
The avid tennis players are on the court three to five times a week and play for three hours at a time.
“Tennis keeps us where we’re at . . . we usually play these young guys, we don’t win that often but the thing is, we make them work.”
Initially the duo intended to play 75+ Men’s doubles but lack of entrants forced them to play singles and they dropped down a level to play mixed doubles.
Ashworth will play mixed in the 70+ group and the more experienced 76-year-old Cameron will play in the 65+.
“There’s nobody in our age group, we’re in the 75 and over and there’s not one single entry.”
A sign that the men are perhaps in a class by themselves.
Ten players are signed up for men’s singles play and the two local boys expect good competition, especially from players from the coast who have to get through playdowns for the right to advance to the Games.
“The level (of competition) is usually high, you get the guys who really want to compete,” said Cameron.
In most organized tennis tournaments the oldest players are 30-years old, so giving up 45 years on a competitor is tough no matter who you are, said Ashworth.
Dropping down a division to play against the senior youngsters isn’t too bad, it just makes the men keen to compete harder.
“It’s not a huge, huge difference,” said Cameron. “We both enjoy it.”
The tennis games are kept to two sets with a third set tiebreaker to get them in under 90 minutes, with only one deuce and no “Ads” or advantage.
While the two tennis buffs are sometimes dissatisfied with tournament format, they appreciate the fact that the Games has provided them and other seniors with an opportunity for friendly competition.
But often a single knockout means a person comes all the way from Prince George, plays one game and has to go home, added Ashworth.
The players are hoping for a double-knockout format this year, to maximize their enjoyment, which is simply to play the game.
“For us, that have been playing for years, it’s a good social and competition,” said Ashworth.
“It’s a fantastic game, it’s a pity we didn’t have more doing it.”
But at 75 and 76, they’re both happy they still are.
Tennis will be played at the Trail Aquatic Centre and Castlegar Community Complex.