South Australian tennis great Kevin Lonergan hopes to take on the world’s best senior players in a return to the International Tennis Federation competition in Europe this year.
Kevin, 86, had hoped to compete in the Oceania Regional Championships at Kooyong, Melbourne, in March, but was forced to withdraw due to injury.
He’s been training up to four times a week to prepare for the international clay court event and plans to continue his training as soon as he’s given the all-clear from his GP.
Kevin, who lives in an ACH Group housing unit at Walkerville, retired from tennis 20 years ago but kept up his fitness at the gym and pool.
He’s working with coach John Caldana to brush up on his skills to play in the International Tennis Federation Senior Open in Munich, Germany, in July.
“I’ve always enjoyed tennis and I’m looking forward to getting back into it and seeing some old friends,” he said.
“I thought maybe if I work hard I might be able to play in the 85s this year. I might not be as quick but I’m thinking I can get to the net. I’ve been lucky to play tennis, it’s given me a lot of opportunities to play all around the world.”
The Kooyong competition was a family affair for Kevin: his daughter Kerry travelled from the Gold Coast to play in the 55s, while his sister Pauline Wood played in the 75s.
Kevin has a long history of success in tennis on the world stage, representing South Australia and Australia many times in a career that spanned more than three decades.
From 1952 to 1958 he represented the state against Victoria in the annual interstate matches, and won the Burr Medal for best and fairest three times.
In his early 30s he competed in Wimbledon and qualified for the French Open and 13 European tournaments, winning two titles in France and Switzerland.
Kevin travelled to the US, UK and Europe many times, playing in 21 tournaments in Europe in 1990 alone and winning three of the over-55 singles titles in France, Germany and Italy.
In between playing as a professional, Kevin coached at Memorial Drive and several colleges in Adelaide.