By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There is an interesting national tennis tournament in town this week. Players come from all over the country to compete. The only stipulation? You must be at least 65 years old.

Brian Cheney comes from Arizona to play in this tournament. His lane is the 65 years and older division.

“There’s guys here at the tournament that I’ve played against since I was like 14. We just enjoy the competition, enjoy the camaraderie,” Cheney said. “It’s fun to get out and we look forward to the tournament.”

Tournament is the key word. This group comes from all over the country, but what they want is competition — organized competition.

“I think I played in 63 national tournaments, so I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly,” said tournament organizer David Nash. “I kind of know what you need to do to run a good tournament to make the players happy. You treat them right, you put a couple of dinners together and you have a little prize money and you have a nice club.”

And so they come from all over the county to participate, to be part of it, to get the legs moving and the heart beating, the same way they started in this game.

“This year we’ve got 55 players both playing singles and doubles, so that’s a great turnout for us,” said Lisa Mushette, United States Tennis Association referee. “We’ve had people traveling all over from the United States, California, Arizona, we’ve got people from the east coast.”

Playing a sport is one thing, but when there is incentive, that’s a whole new game — at any age.

“If you don’t have a tournament you can practice, maybe you’ll feel like, ‘I may not practice today,’ but when you have a tournament coming up it’s a motivator,” Cheney said.

Mike Max