What does a talented 9 year-old and an athletic 90 year-old have in common? Besides both having the number “9” in their age, these two are tennis savages. There no doubt are more like them amongst us. If those two were to play a set, how many of us would like to sit in that tennis umpire chair and make the calls on such a game? You might be surprised to see how the game ends.
Most would prefer to take a seat on the tennis bench and enjoy the entertainment of their defying the odds at any age. The name gaining momentum now is 9 year-old tennis prodigy, Gabby Price. Common with other athletic families, the sport is not a new concept to Miss Price. Her father, Marc, is a former Penn State tennis player who introduced tennis to her at the tender age of four. That was the last time she would play for a few years. Five years later, she is ripping up the court.
Price is under master legend tennis coach, Rick Macci, who is credited for training youngsters such as Capriati, both Williams sisters and Roddick, amongst others. We have seen how successful they have become. Will he succeed again with making Gabby the next American tennis champ?
Recently, she was the youngest participant to play on a clay court in a national competition. Adding to that, Macci stated she was also the smallest and feistiest. Gabby has been raised in a highly competitive family. Her young brothers hold her to that competitive edge. She boasts sponsorship by Head who has never promoted someone as young as her.
In 2010, Price had been presented with a scholarship by none other than John McEnroe, to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) located in New York. It was McEnroe’s vision to bring tennis to youngsters. The junior development program is tennis instruction for intermediate players ages 10-11. Later, they would move on into the more intensive training group of the 14-15 year old students. Interestingly, this Tennis Academy opened another facility in September 2012 at Lake Isle in Eastchester, New York.
The Sportime Lake Isle club’s tennis facilities are not just for pint-sized players. A frequent face at Lake Isle is none other than New York native, Dominick, who is 90 years young. Most elderly see the “golden” years as more of the “stainless steel” years; stainless steel hip and knee replacements become the norm amongst this population. As longetivity has increased, grandmother is no longer at home baking cookies when the grandchildren arrive from school. Grandmother is now out playing golf and grandfather is out playing tennis.
Dominick is really an inspiration. He picked up the tennis racquet at age 30 and has never put it down. Now at age 90, his weekly tennis matches are against other senior team members aged 60-80 years old. He is no stranger to athletics. His life over the years has also included baseball, football, and softball. His weekly visits to the gym to lift weights and ride the stationary bike add to his strength on the court.
What he enjoys about tennis is that singles and doubles can be played. He recently played with his son and granddaughter. That is three generations carrying the tennis torch. His favorite play is the lob shot in tennis. This he states allows the shot to be varying and to do the unexpected.
He is a fan of the US Open and attends when it rolls into town. He is not slowed down by the occasional backache while on the court. A simple rest on the tennis bench and he is back at it again. When asked when he plans to stop playing tennis, he said he will keep playing until he no longer can. At his rate, that may be a long time away. Another fun fact, he and his wife recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Pablo Picasso was quoted as saying “Youth has no age”. These two superstars have certainly proven that. Besides, while advancing in years, tennis players never die…they just lose their bounce.