Wimbledon winner has plenty in common with 84-year-old who is STILL playing

PUBLISHED: 10:42 30 June 2011

Ruth Smith in action

Ruth Smith in action

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SHOULD Andy Murray win Wimbledon, he will be the first Brit to do so since Virginia Wade in 1977 - the year Clavering Tennis Club was founded by an 84-year-old who is still playing to this day.

Tennis

SHOULD Andy Murray win Wimbledon, he will be the first Brit to do so since Virginia Wade in 1977 – the year Clavering Tennis Club was founded by an 84-year-old who is STILL playing to this day.

Ruth Smith, who lives in Saffron Walden, drives down to the club every week for tuition and doubles matches with coach Andy Linley who said “she is amazing, her technique is still really good and she is a pleasure to coach.”

Ruth, who was also a keen cricketer in her younger years, plays league doubles often against people who are half or even a third of her age, but she says she has adapted her game over the years to suit her needs.

“I have gone through about four different serves over the years,” she says with a sparkle in her eyes that give away the automatic high she gets from life on the court.

“Although I have slowed down a bit, I still get such a buzz out of playing, when I’m finished I go home and feel alive – it really does keep me going.”

After fizzing some top-spin forehands over the net she is also handy with the paperwork, as she is one of a team of people who keep the 200-member club going.

She gave birth to the idea of a facility in Clavering when a section of land went up for sale – and she jumped straight on the idea and enlisted the help of now president John Ramuz and together they built what is now a community hub.

The right-hander took a lot of her inspiration from husband Eric, who passed away in 1997, as they used to play tennis and compete together as a winning doubles combination.

And to keep it in the family her grandson, a Cambridge graduate and keen tennis player, is coming down to play her before her 85th birthday in September.

“He has never beaten me, so I think he wants to change that before I reach 85,” she said, still looking spritely after being on court for an hour in temperatures reaching 30 degrees.

“I like the competitiveness, that is why I keep playing league games. Staying active runs in my family, I had three sisters, two of which have reached their 90s and all of us believe in keeping fit – we even sit at home together and do stretching exercise in our chairs!

“If I had one bit of advice to people it would be do to that, stay active and believe you can do anything.”

The Clavering Tennis Club still welcomes new members, so if you have been inspired by Wimbledon or the exploits of Ruth Smith and Andy Murray, give membership secretary Linda Jackson a call on 01799 540269.

- Watch out Ruth, you have a youngster on your trial…

WITH potentially at least a 75-year tennis career ahead of him, youngster Joseph Lampon is showing that he has a bright future in the racket world.

The nine-year-old lives in Quendon and applies his craft down at The Grove lawn Tennis Club in Saffron Walden.

He has recently been selected for the Essex U10s boys county cup team which qualified for the national finals in Bolton and finished in fourth place overall.

His mum Jackie has watched him play since he picked up a racket at the tender age of five: “He loves being part of a team and learnt a lot about attacking play and keeping calm under pressure.

“He put this to good effect in his doubles match against a Surrey pair that included the number one nationally ranked player. Having lost the second set he and his partner went on to win the champions tie-break 10-4.”

Joseph has also been asked to trial for this year’s Essex U9s county cup team, and hopes to be part of the under 10s team again in 2012.

He says his favourite players are Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Grove coach Keith Tennis is the man charged with helping him to reach those heights.

For more information on The Grove visit grovetennis.org.uk and for membership 01799 525573.

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