Tennis is Mary Sanders' favorite sport. In fact, at 83, she's been playing the game for 40 years. She's competed in nearly 100 tournaments. (Photo: Jessica Duff, KTHV)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Are you an avid golfer? Swimmer? Basketball or football player? Can you picture yourself playing one of these sports for half your lifetime?
THV's Jessica Duff spent some time with one lady who has spent the last 40 years playing a sport she absolutely loves.
Meet Mary Sanders.
Tennis is her favorite sport. She's been playing the game for 40 years. She's competed in nearly a hundred tournaments.
"I love the game. We've traveled a lot. And it's just a fun thing to do," says Sanders.
Mary Sanders is 83. Yes, you heard me right. 83. But she didn't grow up playing tennis. In fact, Sanders says she sort of stumbled upon the sport several years ago.
"Our children were swimming competitively here for the racquet club. So I was here, and a friend of mine just asked me would I like to play tennis. I just loved it from the very first. And that's how I began to play."
Over the years, she's played in a variety of tournaments. But one stand out above the rest.
"Probably the most outstanding thing was when our team won the Arkansas tournament. Then we went to Mobile and represented Arkansas in the southern section. We won that. Then we got to go to nationals in Palm Springs, California. We didn't win, but we did well. It was a good time."
Speaking of tournaments, Sanders and her teammates will compete in the 2012 Arkansas State Tennis Championship.
"All of our team members have to be at least 70 years old or older. And this is the last year they're having this tournament for 70-year-olds and over. So that's one reason I'm playing this year. I just wanted to play this last one."
But it's not all about winning.
"We have a good team this year. I'm just hoping we'll be competitive and we'll do well."
For someone that's been around the sport for four decades, she's been able to see some of the tennis stars emerge.
"I've seen a lot of them play. I don't think I've personally met them. I've seen Agassi, John McEnroe, just numerous tennis players that were pros."
When I asked her if she thought her accomplishments were admirable, Sanders remains humble.
"Well, I think of tennis as I do my life, that I hope I display a Christian attitude in what I do. I'm grateful for it and God has been good to me. And I'm just so glad that I can still do this."