Wanted: Competitive tennis players to participate in United States Tennis Association national ranking tournament. Must be in good shape. Must be at least 90 years old.
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That's exactly what Juneau's Dean Williams wanted when he traveled south last month for a USTA nationally sanctioned tournament. Williams, 89, sought to become a nationally ranked player in the USTA 90-95 year old age bracket in Palm Springs, Calif.
Unfortunately, he was the only one in his bracket. A minimum of three players are needed for an official tournament.
"They're still talking about it in California," Williams said. "That's the land of tennis. I'm the only guy that signed up."
The setback failed to keep Williams down, however. The octogenarian took on his friend of 30 years, Sweden's Anders Jansson, for 10 matches. Jansson, 89, is the former warm-up partner of Stefan Edberg, winner of six Grand Slam titles.
"We have a wonderful time and played for 30 years," Williams said. "We have a cup of coffee and a couple hot rolls and then go play tennis. ... He's a well-built guy, about 180 pounds and has a good forehand. I keep the ball away from his forehand."
Williams has been a sporting fixture in Juneau for decades. He's also a tennis maven.
Williams was ranked ninth in the nation for his age group in 1992 and was inducted into the USTA Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame in 2003.
He's earned eight medals in the Senior Olympics and helped surface Cope Park's red tennis courts. Those courts now bear his name.
Williams continues to play tennis locally, but still keeps his eye for the next national tournament.
"If they have a tournament and they have a half-dozen guys," Williams said, 'I'll go."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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