Hawke's Bay tennis player Margaret Hall will dedicate her seventh Super Senior World Teams Championship campaign to her husband Bob, who died last year.
"Bob used to come with me on my trips and he also used to be practise with me in the lead-up to these events. It hasn't been the same without him this time," Hall said.
At 81, Radio Kidnappers presenter Hall will be the youngest in the New Zealand 80plus team in Croatia which also includes Otago's Jean Stevens, Waikato's Mary Durham and South Island's Mary Walsh. Hall will have the No 2 singles role during the September 15-21 teams event and during the September 22-29 individual section of the champs will play with Durham in the doubles and Britain's Roy Henderson in the mixed doubles.
Ten teams, including the United States, who won gold in Florida when Hall last competed at this level in 2017, have entered the teams segment. New Zealand won bronze in Florida and the question had to be put to Hall ... can the Kiwis repeat a top-three finish this month?
"We are two years older and there will be a lot of younger ones coming into the age group. We'll be trying and we might be helped by the fact Canada, who won silver in 2017, won't be there," Hall replied.
"It won't be as hot as it was in Florida. In fact it should be quite pleasant in their autumn. We played there in 2012 so we shouldn't have too much trouble adjusting to their conditions," Hall explained.
On the first day of the 2017 tournament in Florida conditions were so hot and humid an ambulance was called three times to deal with players who were struggling in the conditions. None of the players were Kiwis.
"I thought Florida would be my last worlds. Then Jean [team captain Stevens] contacted me and asked if I had put my name down for Croatia. I told her I didn't think we had a team like last year when we didn't go to the worlds but she said we had the numbers so we're going again," Hall said.
"This will more than likely be my last one as Jean and the others will be going up to the 85plus age group next year."
In 2012, Hall was in a New Zealand 75plus team which finished seventh in Croatia. In 2017 her Kiwi 80plus team was delighted to finish ahead of the likes of Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Argentina and the Ukraine.
Hall hasn't had any major tournament play since winning a bronze medal in the singles in the 80plus age group at the national seniors tournament in Auckland in January. However, she has been a regular at her Havelock North club's Tuesday and Saturday club day sessions.
"It's been a bit awkward trying to find singles opponents during the winter but I will have three singles before leaving next week," Hall said while having a break at club day yesterday.
During her club's recent club champs she beat an opponent 20 years her junior in the first round before being eliminated by Eastern under-14 representative and eventual winner Sophie Ward in the second round.
"I didn't get any games off Sophie but I had an advantage in the last game before Sophie came back to get it. Sophie is a really good player and it's good to play at that level before heading off to the worlds," Hall said.
There's no doubt Hall has made the most of her late arrival on the international tennis scene. She was 70 when she played in her first world seniors teams championships.
The experience gained at these events has helped her perform well at the national seniors events. At last year's national seniors tournament in Lower Hutt Hall won gold (doubles), silver (mixed doubles) and bronze (singles) medals in the 80plus age group.
"I haven't heard where next year's national seniors will be played but I will be there," Hall added.