Good Sports: 87-year-old tennis star still going strong

August 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
At an age when most senior citizens have long since slowed down to enjoy retirement, one 87-year-old Fresno woman is the exception to the rule. Elaine Mason is a living legend and inspiration to everyone she's ever met.

After more than 30 years of teaching tennis, Mason made a bold decision.

"I started playing some of the Northern California tournaments in my late 50's and early 60's," Mason said.

That's right, Mason started playing competitively. This after already making massive contributions to the game, like holding the first patent for the "Shorty" racquet, designed to help beginners learn the game quicker.

"They would always cinch up because they had more control," explained Mason. I thought why not make a racquet that length so that as a child they can have success."

After retirement, and a few playing lessons, Mason finally made her national tournament debut at 64-years-old.

"It took a few years to become tournament tough and learn what I needed to do," admitted Mason. "It was motivating and exciting to see that I could improve."

"Singles and doubles," said Copper River Director of Tennis, and Mason's mentor, Coby Roberts. "94 [national tournament wins]. She won on grass, hard courts, clay and indoors. There would be many years when she won singles and doubles in all four events. They call that the Golden Slam."

And it's not just tennis. Mason is seeing the world as a top senior player.

"I ended up having 11 trips, to Turkey twice, Vienna twice, Cape Town, South Africa, Australia," Mason said.

And Mason is finding gratitude and fulfillment in sharing the game with her friends, who feel the same.

"There are people that have done a lot of incredible things," said Mason's friend, Irene Harris. "But look at her. She's done a lifetime of incredible things and she continues to do them to this day."

"She's always encouraging them to practice and play and get better," said Roberts. "Everybody just loves and respects Elaine."

87-years-old and Elaine show no signs of slowing down. Those words aren't in her vocabulary. In fact on August 11th she takes off for Kansas City, going for a 95th national championship."

"That's a wonderful thing at my age," said Mason with a smile. "I'm not just sitting at home on the couch. I'm doing something that's constructive."

Mason still has lofty goals for game.

"Some of the 85's can really run right now so my partner and I say when we reach 90 then we can win again because we can leave these 85-year-olds," Mason said.

But overall, Mason says she's happy with the mark she's left on the game.

"I just hope they've learned from me, about the game and about life and being a good sport," said Mason.

It's safe to say the answer to that is a resounding yes.


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