THREE Perth seniors are celebrating the 40th anniversary of a ground-breaking tennis tournament they established in the winter of 1980.
Henry Michael, Gordon Gregory, Phillip Massey and Richard Horsley were a bit bored in the tennis off-season in 1980, so they decided to setup a midweek competition between May and October.
Word quickly spread and soon tennis enthusiasts were travelling from all across the metropolitan area, even as far as York, to play in the winter tournament at the Canning Tennis Club.
Over the years the competition has grown in popularity and has been held at different clubs including the State Tennis Centre, before finally settling at Roberston Park Tennis Centre in North Perth in 2010.
Sadly Mr Horsely passed away, but the three founding members of the tournament are still whipping forehands across the net.
“The key to the group continuing has been driven by the fact that we all just want to keep playing at the top of our game,” Mr Michael says.
“Forty years later and the focus of the group remains on playing high level competitive tennis and for everyone on court to have a good tough match.”
Mr Gregory says he loves the camaraderie as much as the tennis.
“Tennis brings us together but the really great feeling of having good friends from different clubs who you can have a meal or a drink with after the game is something else,” he says.
“We play social tennis at a very competitive level where we all still like to win but there are no ill feelings because of the good sportsmanship that surrounds the group.
“I keep playing because I enjoy it and part of that is the friendship, and that’s the secret – enjoying yourself and appreciating each other’s company.”
For the past 20 years, York farmer Justus Van Der Westhuizen has been making the four hour round trip to Perth, just so he can play tennis with his good mates.
“I’ve played tennis all of my life; I grew up in South Africa hitting a ball against a wall and before I knew it I’d progressed to playing seniors tennis,” he says.
“When we moved to Australia in 2000 I joined the York Tennis Club and Tennis Seniors before being invited to join the Midweek Winter Men’s competition.
“We enjoy each other company and the fact that we get to play more tennis is a bonus.”
To find out more about the Roberston Park Tennis Centre go to http://www.tenniscentral.com.au