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jk1/Longwood Cricket Club Hosts 85+ Tennis Tournament

By Alyssa Wolf
On September 21, 2007

Chestnut Hill- To the hundreds of other players participating in the tennis tournaments this fall at the Longwood Cricket Club, they probably looked like another 20 men dressed in white. As they were practicing on the court they were laughing with the other players, telling jokes about years past. Yet these 20 men were getting a lot more admiration.These 20 men have all signed up to play in Longwood Cricket Club's 85 and older tennis tournament this weekend. is hosting its annual 85 and older tennis tournament this weekend. These players came from places as far away as China and as close as Newton, Massachusetts to show how good they are with a racket.

"I can still get a good volley going. I can't run around the court as fast as I did when I was 40 but I have still got a good backhand," says Sidney Sacks, a 94-year-old retired furniture maker from Redlands, California. This is Sack's first tournament at Longwood.

As he bends his knees and assumes the backhand position, Sacks waits for his childhood friend and doubles partner, George Kaplan, to serve him the ball. He smacks the neon green ball back and forth to Kaplan, practicing for the big match.

With the sound of his sneakers squeaking as he scurries across the court, Kaplan teases Sacks about his arthritis kicking in. "It took a long time to convince him to play this year. He always complains about his aches and pains from arthritis and didn't think he could make it through a whole match. I told him to come to Boston and quit complaining like he is 94 years old," says Kaplan.

This is the fourth tournament the 89-year-old Kaplan is playing at Longwood. The Newton native began participating in the seniors' tournaments as soon as he was eligible at 85. He says his first year he was just as nervous as Sacks about not having the stamina to make it through a match. To his surprise, that year he won the tournament.

"George is the one to beat every year. He has won three tournaments. He is a great athlete and exhibits great sportsmanship by encouraging all of the other men to perform to the best of their abilities," says John McGuire, the organizer for the tournament.

The returning champion has spent the last year recovering from surgery for a brain tumor. Last February he wasn't sure if he would ever walk again. The idea of playing at Longwood this fall is what motivated him to work hard in physical therapy. He refused to listen to his wife, Shirley telling him he couldn't play when he was bedridden at the rehab facility.

"George is amazing. I mean I can't even play like that at 45. Look at him playing," Terry Johnson says as he admires Kaplan playing.

"I will never miss a tournament. Tennis is my fountain of youth. I can play until I am 100," says Kaplan.

Longwood has been hosting amateur as well as pro tennis tournaments since 1877.

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