An 85-year-old tennis legend is set to fly to America next week, after being selected to represent team GB in the World Team Championships.
Gene Harris, from Leicester’s Knighton area, has been selected for Great Britain over 85s, to play in the the 2022 ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships, which will take place in Palm Beach County, Florida from April 24-29.
Mr Harris, a longtime member of Carisbrooke Lawn Tennis Club, has played the sport for many years, and is a life-long lover of the game.
However, this is the first time he’s been asked to represent his country, and the first time he’s set to visit the United States, despite his coaching career taking him across Europe, and even to Dubai.
“It’ll be nice to play against others of my age from around the world and see what the standard’s like,” he told the Leicester Times.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what I’m up against. However, I’m not too sure about the heat, which is around 80 degrees!”
“I fly out to Atlanta next Wednesday and it’ll certainly be an experience,” he revealed.
During the first week of his trip, Mr Harris will be playing in the Great Britain team, and then in the second week, he’ll be testing himself in the World Individuals competition, against some of the best in the world for his age group.
“I used to play cricket as a younger man, but fell in love with tennis because of the ‘one of one’ element of the game”, he revealed.
“It’s just you against them, and that’s what I enjoy the most.
“It’s a nice game and the support at the club is amazing”, he added.
“There aren’t many tennis players who are older than me, and I’m sure that must give hope to some. I play against the youngsters at the club and they’re very good. They don’t run me around too much!”
Speaking about Mr Harris’ contribution to Carisbrook Lawn Tennis Club, which he joined in the 70’s, Jack Simpson, head coach, described him as a ‘stalwart’ and an ‘inspiration’.
“It’s an amazing achievement for Gene to get called up for Great Britain -much deserved and he’s got many more years in him yet”, he said.
“He’s an inspiration to us all at Carisbrooke.”
And Mr Harris certainly has no plans to put down his racket anytime soon.
“I’ll keep playing for as long as I can”, he said.
“There’s a 90-95-year age bracket, so why not?”
By Louise Steel