Kenneth Nelson, a Phase 1 resident for the past five years, has been to the Senior Olympic games twice before this year. He participated in singles in 2012 and did not earn a medal. He entered again in 2016 and earned third place and a bronze medal.
This year, Ken decided that he would enter the singles as usual but would also take a couple of his tennis partners in some local events with him. In the doubles arena, Ken invited Ollie Johnson of the Cottonwood Tennis Club and James Brown of the Phase 1 Sun Lakes Tennis Club. Nelson kept explaining to them that it would be fun and that there was a possibility that they would receive medals if they played well.
The three of them met four or five times on several occasions to practice and to sharpen their play together for the events. Both Ken and Jim wound up with colds and had to pass a day here and there of practice, and Ken even stood both of them up on one occasion each because he did not feel well.
Saturday, the 25th of February, was the first day of play for Ken, and he won the first match by default and lost to the winner of the 2016 games, Bob Keeler, 2-10 in the pro set final to earn the silver medal.
The mixed doubles and the men’s doubles were held on Sunday, the 26th, with Ken playing a qualifier at noon for the Nationals in New Mexico next year, winning 10-3. At 1:00 p.m., he and Jim played the eventual winner in the men’s doubles, losing 3-10, while the other pair in the division lost 5-10. Tiebreaker for Ken and Jim and the other pair was games won against the winners. At 3:00 p.m., Ken and Ollie played for first place in the age combined mixed doubles portion of play, winning in convincing fashion 10-0, garnering the gold medal.
This tournament is a lot of fun. It is a senior event without the USTA sanctioning; it is inexpensive ($10 per entrant) and needs more seniors to enter and gain some national recognition. A good time was had by all, and we highly recommend that the Sun Lakes and other club communities in the East Valley enter next year.
Tennis is not the only sport contested. There is track and field, bocce ball, bowling, golf, swimming, basketball, pickleball, badminton, table tennis, power lifting and more. For more information, go to www.seniorgames.org and/or call Executive Director Irene Stillwell at 602-274-7742.