An 85-year-old tennis player has improved his world ranking from 117 to 51, after flying to Florida to take part in the Super-Seniors World Team Championships.
Gene Harris, who lives in Leicester’s Knighton area, excelled in the competition, which took place last month in Palm Beach, Florida.
He got to the the Semi Finals of the World Doubles competition, as well as the Quarter Finals of the individual singles event, beating top rivals in his age group from Canada and the USA, to make it through to the third round.
He lost to the eventual winner of the competition, American “King” Van Nostrand, who has secured many world titles over the course of his illustrious tennis career.
“I’m very pleased”, said the pensioner of his impressive efforts stateside, which saw him play matches in 96 degree heat.
“Playing in that heat was one of the most challenging, but also one of the best experiences of my life”, he added.
“To have my first GB call up is a real achievement and I have no plans to stop playing anytime soon”!
As well as raising his world ranking from 117 to 51, Mr Harris also raised it from 51-20 in the doubles category.
He has been a longtime member of Knighton’s Carisbrook Tennis Club, where he has secured ‘legend status’.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and it’s been a massive talking point at the club”, said coach Jack Simpson.
“I’ve seen many congratulation cards and the like being given to him by members.”
“He really is a big inspiration to us all at Carisbrooke”.
Mr Harris is now set to travel to Bournemouth on Friday (May 27), to play in the British Open Senior Clay Court Championships.