Club Events and News: Now Featuring Frank Jenkins
Notes from our veteran correspondent – Frank Jenkins
“As many of you know, although I’m getting on, there are still many things on my bucket list that I want to do.
Every year the International Tennis Federation (ITF) run a world tournament for tennis veterans at various international venues and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) enter teams to represent Great Britain at age groups from 35 to 85+ years.
Having played in veterans’ tennis tournaments from the age of 75, but never been quite good enough to play for GB, I thought it would be nice to play in the individual tournaments which take place after the team events.
With time running out, last year I asked my family fan club to find out where the World tournament was being held and was told it was Turkey. Turkey in 2016 was definitely not on my bucket list, so did I didn’t investigate further.
It transpired that it was on no-one else’s bucket list either, so the venue was changed to Croatia. But neither my trusty support team, aka family, nor myself found out until too late. I need to change my family…
However, while playing at an indoor tournament in Brierley Hill in January I accepted an invitation from tennis friends there to join them in a big international tournament at Cervia, Italy, in May.
Cervia is an upmarket holiday resort on the Adriatic coast, south of Bologna, and this group have been going there for many years, staying at a 4 star hotel, rather more palatial than my usual B&B and evening meal down the pub.
During my 12 day holiday I celebrated my 88th birthday for which the hotel provided a birthday cake and with the Adriatic Sea about 100 yards from the rear of the hotel I swam several times in glorious weather. It wasn’t on my bucket list, but I did it anyway. I am that sort of person.
The hotel had its own red clay tennis courts where I practised before the tournament began.
The tournament was held at a nearby 5 star hotel, with 10 red clay tennis court; dragged, cleaned and watered after every match by ground staff. (We have to do this ourselves in the UK).
In my first singles match I beat an Italian player of similar ranking in 3 long sets, and the next day I beat the No 3 seed, a Polish player of much higher ranking,in another 3 set match. The temperature was high, and I can’t remember perspiring as much playing tennis anywhere.
On the 3rd day I played against the number No 1 seed, an Australian, but my legs had had enough and I retired after the first game with a pulled hamstring muscle injury. Unfortunately it meant I couldn’t play in the doubles in which I had a very good partner.
I also had to withdraw from the Bournemouth tournament following week. Veterans’ Tennis can be tough.
However, all was not lost. My efforts in Italy had been noted by the LTA, and the points earned on my two victories have improved my world rankings substantially and at the moment only 3 GB players have more points. This puts me as No 4 in Great Britain.
This year, for the first time, the LTA will send an over-85s team to the next championship tournament to be held in Miami in October. I have been selected as a reserve, so if any of the team members drop out, it will be my moment.
My bucket list may yet be completed. Watch this space. “
Frank Jenkins, Age 88¼