Vic Braden and senior tennis players
Tennis Coach Vic Braden

Tennis at high age?
Health benefits win for senior players

by Rich Neher (posted 1/13/2011)
Senior tennis players may be healthier than their non tennis playing friends and famous tennis coach Vic Braden has suggestions to improve their game.
Vic Braden is one of the greatest tennis teachers in the United States. Vic is known for good advice that improves any player's game quickly. He used to run a well known national teaching organization by the name of Vic Braden Tennis College which was rated as the “#5 Tennis Camp in the World”. Vic is a resident of Orange County, CA. He teaches tennis at the Coto Valley Country Club in Coto de Caza and travels all over the world for tennis research and teaching engagements. Vic also is a Board member of the Southern California Tennis Association, which is located at LA’s UCLA campus.
Tennis Lessons for Senior Players
A few years ago Vic provided one of his famous full day clinics for 50 tennis players at the beautiful Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe (San Diego). Vic and 7 Pros organized drills and clinics for all players and Vic video-taped each player's forehand, backhand, volley and serve. Most of the players were around the age of 55 or older and interesting enough, Vic had a similar advice for many of them! Regardless of the ability of players, his advice for improving forehands and backhands was "Always remember: play low to high". He broke each player's ground stroke down to the one basic rule many tennis players seem to forget: Your arm/racquet movement has to go from low to high in order for the ball to clear the net. It makes a lot of sense and shows that constant re-enforcement of well known techniques should be an important part of a tennis coach’s lessons – even when dealing with senior players. Especially senior tennis players need to make sure they follow those simple rules in order to save energy and avoid injury.
One year earlier Vic Braden was keynote speaker at a major tennis fundraiser at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, CA. Billie Jean King was honorable Chairperson of the event. The fundraiser was endorsed by Dr. Laura Schlessinger of radio fame, and the MC was famous San Diego sports personality, standup comedian, and tennis player, Benny Ricardo. Vic delighted the audience with funny tidbits about tennis players, especially about his contemporaries like Bobby Riggs. He explained how Bobby won a mixed doubles game against Vic and a very good female player while he was tied with a chain to a female Elephant!. Needless to say, Bobby, who was 55 at the time, won quite a bit of cash from that bet. What that story really showed was the unparalleled ability of Bobby Riggs to do what senior players know how to do: short cuts, saving energy, angles, drop shots, preventing injury.
Ninety Year Old Tennis Players at National Championships
Another funny Vic Braden story that night told about his experience at the National Super Senior Championships somewhere in Georgia. He reported watching a doubles match between two 90+ year old men and their opponents. One 90 year old was in better shape and kept running the older players on the other side from corner to corner. Finally the 94 year old opponent stopped and had to take a break, shouting across the court "Oh, to be 90 again..."
That statement was pretty funny, but more important seems to be the fact that a tennis match went on with players over the age of 90. Is there any other sport were people that age compete in a ball game? They say Exercise is the key to healthy aging. reports in their article “Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips - How to Gain Energy and Feel Stronger” about the whole-body benefits of exercise for seniors:
Two Types of Physical Health Benefits for Senior Tennis Players
- maintaining or losing weight
- reducing the impact of illness
- enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
Mental Health Benefits
- improved sleep
- boosted mood and self-confidence
- good for the brain
What does age mean in tennis? Last year we saw a 31 year old Ivan Ljubicic win the BNP Paribas Open, in Indian Wells, CA, his first ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title by beating Djokovic, Nadal, and Roddick on the way.
We have seen some great players winning big titles late in life. How about Big Bill Tilden, who won Wimbledon at age 37 in 1930? Or Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors who won titles at age 33? None of those former world class players can top Martina Navratilova, of course. In 2003, she won her last Australian Open and Wimbledon Mixed Doubles titles at age 46!
Has your tennis game improved with age? It should have! You should be able to play smarter, to exploit your opponents’ weaknesses while saving energy. The better you play the more fun you’ll have. And the more fun you have the better you’ll play. Guaranteed! Who knows, maybe we’ll see you at a National Super Senior Tennis Championship one day?

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