53-year-old tennis veteran still an ace on the court

Glenn Wilson, 53, aims to help Waimairi defend their men’s premier interclub title when Tennis...
Glenn Wilson, 53, aims to help Waimairi defend their men’s premier interclub title when Tennis Canterbury’s season reaches the business end after Christmas. Photo: Supplied
Glenn Wilson plans to play tennis into his 80s, so for now the Christchurch interclub premier grade competition isn’t beyond his realm of possibilities.

Work commitments with his fruit packaging operation means the 53-year-old doubts he will be playing for reigning champion Waimairi before Christmas – but the former Davis Cup player and captain is determined to feature during the business end of the title defence, which gets under way on Saturday.

“That’s pretty much what I did last year,” said Wilson, a former coach who now confines his mentoring to daughter Bailee.

“I work and run a business, and I’ve been on the Tennis Canterbury board for five months. That tends to keep me busy enough.”

Wilson, a regular in the interclub arena since the globetrotting aspect of his career ended in the late 1990s, reckons he will need two months to get in shape before renewing rivalries with last season’s runners-up Cashmere.

As much as he loves the sport, playing indoors over winter didn’t appeal so hitting with Bailee – who returned from a United States college scholarship in March due to Covid-19 – is the extent of his pre-season preparation so far.

“I can’t just walk into it like a 20-year-old and expect to hop out on court and physically be okay, an old bugger like me,” said Wilson, who was once ranked 160 in the world as a doubles player.

He expects to play in that format again for a rebuilding Waimairi side that lost the experienced Remi Feneon and Ben McGillivray, while Grayson Cullen hopes to return to the US college circuit in January.

Wilson reckoned he was the oldest player in the premier grade, not that it fazed him.

“Since the age of 30 I’ve been playing off and on, I’ve got my 100 wins like a few others,” he said.

“I enjoy playing with the guys in the club and you play teams that have got good people on them.”

Some of those opponents were coached by Wilson in their younger days and evidently he did a decent job.

“Some of them having bragging rights over me now. I coached them well then,” he said.

New Zealand Davis Cup team members James Greenhalg (left), Daniel Willman, Mark Neilson and Glenn...
New Zealand Davis Cup team members James Greenhalg (left), Daniel Willman, Mark Neilson and Glenn Wilson (front). Photo: Ross Land / Getty Images
He was confident Bailee, 19, would also benefit from his technical nous and court craft, when she turns out for Te Kura Hagley in the top women’s competition though defending champions Waimairi would be tough to beat.

Waimairi’s title-winning squad are intact for the defence with mother and daughter Joelene and Jade Feneon again teaming up with Farrah Richards and Kerrie Ling.

Wilson was not as bullish about his team, and Cashmere.

“We’re definitely not as strong as last year. Waimairi and Cashmere will have their work cut out for them, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s different teams in the semi-finals.”

Elmwood loom as a major threat with No 1 Elliot Darling, the Batt brothers Edward and Tom plus Jamie Garbett and new recruit McGillivray leading the group.

Meanwhile, Wilson is also trying to have a positive influence off the court after joining the Tennis Canterbury board.

“I’d been out of the game – apart from playing – for 9-10 years. My kids are older now and I wanted to give back to game a little bit,” he said.

“I want tennis to move forward in a really positive manner.

“I’ve played it for nearly 50 years and if I stay healthy I’ve got another 30 years in it. Not a lot of other sports do offer that sort of aspect.

“It’s about making the sport attractive for people to play . . . adults, beginners and then trying to retain them.”

Premier interclub teams:

  • Men 

Cashmere – James Meredith, Matt Meredith, Tim Meredith, Harry Weeds; Country: Diego Quispe-Kim, Jack Tiller, Cameron McCracken, Ben Smith; Elmwood: Elliot Darling, Jamie Garbett, Edward Batt, Tom Batt, Ben McGillivray, Ryan Van Grinsven, Sam Keenan; Shirley: Liam Adams, Jamie Poole, Jordan Edwards, Philipp Hoeper, Nont Prachuabmoh, Flynn Ness; Te Kura Hagley: William Schneideman, Daiki Naka, Alex Emslie, Hugo Nurse-Strang, Jenner Johnson; Waimairi: Glenn Wilson, Grayson Cullen, Maddison Aubrey, Matt Woolman, Finn Emslie-Robson, Jared Robinson.

  • Women

Cashmere and Burnside: Tessa McCann, Alkmini Giannakogiorgou, Marina Macleod Hungar, Wonjeong Kim, Juliette Ma; Elmwood: Abby Mason, Elizabeth Andre, Mikaila Smith, Emma Mason, Alice Batt; Te Kura Hagley: Beth Williamson, Ashleigh Leonard, Bailee Wilson, Pang Suwanaposee, Michelle North; Waimairi: Jade Feneon, Joelene Feneon, Farrah Richards, Kerrie Ling. 






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