Tennis: Veteran living the tennis dream

When Quentin Maisey set himself a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve there was one in particular he was excited about.

As a lifelong competitive tennis player, the 60-year-old from Tauranga decided to embark on a five-month odyssey around Europe playing tennis with the goal to break into the world's top-20 players in his age group.

He was based at the Scheesel club between Hamburg and Bremen, who generously paid his living expenses, and he travelled to tournaments around Europe.

The journey could not have gone better for Maisey as he ended up with an official ITF Seniors world ranking of 11 in singles, fourth in doubles and third in the mixed doubles.

"Not bad for a fat old so and so from Tauranga," Maisey said with his trademark grin.

"I had a marvellous trip. The results varied, but I managed to win a European mixed double title in Austria, another mixed doubles in Bordeaux, France, a tier 1 doubles title in Croatia, a tier 3 singles title in Amsterdam and a tier 2 title in Eastbourne, England.

"Then at the World Championship in Croatia in September, I fluked a runner up in the mixed doubles, with former Gate Pa player Sandy Tritt of Morrinsville, and actually won the world doubles title with Max Bates of Australia."

The accolade of winning the doubles is a major achievement as it is just the third world age group title won by a New Zealander.

Maisey was joined by three other Western Bay senior tennis players at the World Championships in Croatia. Sue Jamieson, Louise Cox and Monica Golden all competed with distinction.

"As for becoming a 'professional' tennis player at the age of 60, I am a failure as the trip cost $25,000 and I won about $1200, so not too economical, but I would do it again in a flash," Maisey said laughing.

"The people and places I went to were just so nice, especially the two months living in Germany and playing interclub for a team in German League 1.

"If I went back next year I wouldn't have to pay for accommodation, that's for sure."

The biggest challenge Maisey faced was learning how to play on clay courts for the first time.

"I wondered what I had struck because I had never seen clay before, and although it is slower and has a higher bounce, the biggest thing is the balls travel differently.

"There were some embarrassing moments when I first got there and it took me a while to get used to the flight of the balls, as they lose 60 per cent of their velocity from the time you hit it and it crosses the net and bounces.

"A lob would go up and I would hit it with my normal timing but I was swinging long before the ball got to my racquet. I was either framing it or the occasional complete misses so I spent four to five hours every day on the court for the first two weeks I was there and obviously I came right.

"The interesting thing if I tried to do that here, even on astro, my body wouldn't take it. Clay is very, very much better on your body."

So what's the next challenge for Maisey to knock off ?

"I do plan to go back and there is an investment opportunity in three years' time.

"There are five or six of us from Germany going to buy a club in Tenerife. One guy has a fair amount of money and we would go there and run it.

"I would become the sports and coaching director at the club and we would try and get ITF tournaments there.

"Next up for me in mid-January is the Australian champs in Perth, where I was runner-up last year.

"It is going to be tougher because Bruno Renault, who is number two in the world, is coming down and I am playing doubles with him. Rafa Ruiz is the same ranking as me and he is coming from Spain."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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