Anyone for (oldies) tennis?

WE’RE thinking of signposting the path from the lower tennis courts to the clubhouse as ‘Orthopaedic Walk’. It’s the walk when the topic of conversation is the aches and pains of our aging bodies.

Thanks to the wonders of medical science, there are new knees, new hips and new shoulders in abundance as we make the 50 metre trek to the clubhouse, the last part involving no less than six steps leading into the sanctuary of the shower and then the bar.

It’s happening around the world as Baby Boomers extend their physical activities into retirement years. Writing in recently Lois Trader cited University of Michigan research which found that the number of people getting new knees in the US has risen to 500,000 per year, and could well be headed for 3.2 million each year in a decade.

Back in Perth, it helps our worn out knees that we play tennis on grass. Just like Wimbledon. Well, perhaps not quite.

Tuesday afternoons is Vets afternoon, a men’s only club within the broader more egalitarian environment of the parent club. Most of the Tuesday afternoon vets are retired but a few self-employed simply take the afternoon off from their daily labours to socialise with those they will soon join on a full-time basis in the glories of retirement to the tennis court.

It means there is a spread of ages from the Fifties to the Eighties. The elder statesmen among us even out the contest by bringing craft and cunning to their play when once there was speed and strength. Those who reach the age of 80 also enjoy the added status of a club award, the OBE – Over Bloody Eighty.

It’s a big occasion, the award of a tennis OBE: a dinner event when club members invite their partners and the OBE recipients are impressively feted with speeches and toasts.

We now have seven OBEs, five of them still playing. The numbers will swell each year as more of us – the Baby Boomers – reach that celebrated age. In the meantime, as we continue to stagger along Orthopaedic Walk comparing our aches and pains, we thank clever medical surgeons and the occasional glass of red wine that we can continue to play an active sport deep into our retirement years.

May it long continue.

(Pictured: Six of our tennis OBEs)

Len Horne

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