When do people stop playing tennis?

doubleshack

New User
Anecdotal evidence, it seems to me, the better you are, the sooner you give up the game of tennis.

I was at a club this morning, and saw a group of 'regulars' playing their weekly match. They were easily, almost 80 years old, one might have been in his 80's. First, I hope I live that long. Second, I'd also like to be fit enough to still be playing tennis. I was simply impressed with these men.

Was their tennis pretty? No. But, they enjoyed themselves, got some exercise, and spent time with their friends. It was interesting to watch. For example, every once in a while, a ball would bounce near a line and they would basically vote on whether it was in or out. The person who should have made the call would say, I didn't see it, do you? They would talk for a few minutes, might even go off on a tangent, but eventually they would decide as a group and everyone would accept and they'd play on.

My guess, during any part of their tennis playing years, they were never higher than 3.5. Just a guess, and I could be completely off, just trying to lay out the argument.

That was this morning, but then I recalled a conversation I had about a year ago, with someone who had played D1 tennis. Being a club level player, I found it interesting to talk with someone who had played at that level. I won't bore you with the small talk, but at one point, I said something to the effect of, if you are that good, you must play tennis all the time. He said no, actually, I've taken up golf.

At first, I was stunned. But then he explained that during college, he would practice for hours every day. Now, with other responsibilities, he can not practice like that so his game has dropped. It is actually kind of frustrating, because he knows the level of play he is capable of, but without the practice, he's just not there. He will never play that well again. So, he took up golf, for the simple fact that he is competitive, and right now, he's not a great golfer. But through what little practice he can squeeze in, he's getting better and that makes it enjoyable, improving.

Ok, as mentioned earlier, this is anecdotal. One weekly group of regulars and 1 ex-D1 player does not make empirical evidence. I know there are some top-flight players on this forum, and they still play. Are you the exception? Do most of your peers from years ago still play, or have they moved on to something else.

In general, once you stop improving, does tennis become 'less fun' and eventually you stop playing. Or does wisdom prevail and you realize that even though your skills may diminish, tennis is still worth playing.
 
Well, I decided to do a coaching accreditation in my mid 30s so I would have a reason to stay on the court indefinitely.

I guess the result has meant I have kept my level up better than I would otherwise have done (I am an ITN 3/4, so you would say 5.5/5.0) and get to hit a lot more tennis balls than I probably would have otherwise. There are quite a few other coaches I know who are much older than me (I am 45) and still play beautiful tennis. I have also noticed lately a lot of former top level players coming back to the game in their late 30s and early 40s because they have kids who have taken it up.

(magic moment the other night: one of my students, a pretty decent 12s boy, hitting with his father for the first time : "gee dad, you're pretty good, did you used to play?"
His father was ranked top 50 in the country at one point...)
 
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andfor

Legend
Anecdotal evidence, it seems to me, the better you are, the sooner you give up the game of tennis.

I was at a club this morning, and saw a group of 'regulars' playing their weekly match. They were easily, almost 80 years old, one might have been in his 80's. First, I hope I live that long. Second, I'd also like to be fit enough to still be playing tennis. I was simply impressed with these men.

Was their tennis pretty? No. But, they enjoyed themselves, got some exercise, and spent time with their friends. It was interesting to watch. For example, every once in a while, a ball would bounce near a line and they would basically vote on whether it was in or out. The person who should have made the call would say, I didn't see it, do you? They would talk for a few minutes, might even go off on a tangent, but eventually they would decide as a group and everyone would accept and they'd play on.

My guess, during any part of their tennis playing years, they were never higher than 3.5. Just a guess, and I could be completely off, just trying to lay out the argument.

That was this morning, but then I recalled a conversation I had about a year ago, with someone who had played D1 tennis. Being a club level player, I found it interesting to talk with someone who had played at that level. I won't bore you with the small talk, but at one point, I said something to the effect of, if you are that good, you must play tennis all the time. He said no, actually, I've taken up golf.

At first, I was stunned. But then he explained that during college, he would practice for hours every day. Now, with other responsibilities, he can not practice like that so his game has dropped. It is actually kind of frustrating, because he knows the level of play he is capable of, but without the practice, he's just not there. He will never play that well again. So, he took up golf, for the simple fact that he is competitive, and right now, he's not a great golfer. But through what little practice he can squeeze in, he's getting better and that makes it enjoyable, improving.

Ok, as mentioned earlier, this is anecdotal. One weekly group of regulars and 1 ex-D1 player does not make empirical evidence. I know there are some top-flight players on this forum, and they still play. Are you the exception? Do most of your peers from years ago still play, or have they moved on to something else.

In general, once you stop improving, does tennis become 'less fun' and eventually you stop playing. Or does wisdom prevail and you realize that even though your skills may diminish, tennis is still worth playing.

Good question. I don't have an answer but do have something to add. At my club is a group of 75+'ers like yours. I love seeing them play. I would argue that depending on how you view tennis and your own game, there's always something to work on and improve. As a 4.5 I always look for 1 or 2 areas of my game every winter to try to improve up a notch for the upcoming spring and summer. It's personally motivating for me and has kept me coming back for more. Been playing now for 35 years and still enjoying it.
 

cak

Professional
My anecdotal evidence: when I started playing again after 20 something years and raising kids I was a 2.5 and often paired with the wonderful 70 something year old lady for interclub matches. She played as often as she could get games. Sometimes that was 5 times a week. And often her court mates were also at the super super senior level.

USTA ranked her as a 2.5, but old NorCal records showed she was a 4.0 just 10 years earlier, and people tell me she was much better than that when she was younger, playing amateur championships.

I think some people are competitive, and like activities where they have a chance to improve. Others like certain activities. She loved playing tennis, whether she was good at it or not.
 

OrangePower

Legend
I don't consider that I was ever all that good in the grand scheme of things, but I will share my story: I played for my HS team. Was pretty good at the time - maybe a 5.0 although I never had a USTA rating. Was able to beat some friends who went on to play DIII tennis. I ended up at a D1 school on an academic scholarship. Tried out for the team but was nowhere near good enough - these guys were probably all 6.0s. At that point I gave up tennis for almost 20 years. Started playing again as a 4.0 several years ago, now I'm a 40-something 4.5. I will never again be as good as I was, and I accept that. But I enjoy playing and find that it's the best way for me to get exercise without it seeming a chore. My regret is that I didn't keep it up for those 20 years.
 

jonnyjack

Semi-Pro
I think a lot of the higher level players stop playing earlier because of the burn out. I know for me personally, when teams start getting crazy competitive and people always want to work the system, it really takes the fun out of it. I even thought about quitting after the 2012 adult season which is when my USTA membership is going to end.
 

goober

Legend
I think a lot of the higher level players stop playing earlier because of the burn out. I know for me personally, when teams start getting crazy competitive and people always want to work the system, it really takes the fun out of it. I even thought about quitting after the 2012 adult season which is when my USTA membership is going to end.

Yeah league tennis is like an arms race. One team gets an edge on another team and then they respond by trying to up the ante in some other way.

People build up their roster by managing their ratings of their best players, bringing in self rated players that are out of level and recruiting star players off other rival teams. On one hand you have to partcipate in the behavior to remain even somewhat competitive, but on the other you have to wonder if is this fun and is this why you are even playing tennis in the first place?
 

Xisbum

Semi-Pro
When they pry the racquet from my cold, dead hand. :) And that day is a lot closer than it was.
 

andfor

Legend
I think a lot of the higher level players stop playing earlier because of the burn out. I know for me personally, when teams start getting crazy competitive and people always want to work the system, it really takes the fun out of it. I even thought about quitting after the 2012 adult season which is when my USTA membership is going to end.

Yeah league tennis is like an arms race. One team gets an edge on another team and then they respond by trying to up the ante in some other way.

People build up their roster by managing their ratings of their best players, bringing in self rated players that are out of level and recruiting star players off other rival teams. On one hand you have to partcipate in the behavior to remain even somewhat competitive, but on the other you have to wonder if is this fun and is this why you are even playing tennis in the first place?

When the focus is outcome based (winning and losing) for seniors and juniors often burnout is the case. Long term enjoyment comes from a process based focus when the player is looking for ways to improve.

What I'm describing is highlevel, but if the focus is on trying to get better and controlling what your can, attitude, effort and trying to execute a gameplan, players overall are usually happier. Subscribe to this and winning will take care of itself.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Answer is never. I have known a man that was 88 years old that played tennis right up to 1 week before he passed away.

Human being's passion never die. It is the love and desire that makes us what we are. Unique individual human beings that we are.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I have come across many who were high-level sportsmen in school and college, and have given it up completely. If you start working in any other mundane field, very soon you will not have high-level players to practice with, and you cannot bring yourself to play with beginners. So it is the end of the road. At least some sports have continuing leagues in some cities and they can be an outlet.
 

jdubbs

Hall of Fame
If it gets to a point where I can't play any good players anymore or can't move very well, I'll probably give it up for golf.

It's started to enter my mind as I hit the high 4.0/low 4.5 at age 40, but feel like my game has plateaued a bit. Simply put, if I'm not improving, I get bored staying at the same level. So I'm going to change rackets to see if that helps, and keep taking lessons to work on certain parts of my game.

But I do know at least a couple of players who played in college that simply burned out and won't play anymore. And I could see getting frustrated with not being at that previous level.
 

Devilito

Hall of Fame
I have come across many who were high-level sportsmen in school and college, and have given it up completely. If you start working in any other mundane field, very soon you will not have high-level players to practice with, and you cannot bring yourself to play with beginners. So it is the end of the road. At least some sports have continuing leagues in some cities and they can be an outlet.

i find that to be pretty much the rule as well. Very few exceptions of players that kept playing in their 20s after a competitive junior / college career. Especially in areas were high level Open tournaments aren't as prevalent and require a lot of travel time. I’d imagine if the same players lived in Europe or a tennis hotbed in the US they’d have kept playing as high level tournaments would be more common and easier to get to. I myself quit soon after juniors as there were only about 3-4 high level tournaments / year in my region and I wasn’t going to bust my ass training hours every day to play 1 tournament every 4 months, and I wasn’t about to spend thousands flying to tournaments (Canada is too sparse to drive anywhere for the most part)
 

ian2

Semi-Pro
Shows what happens when you stop playing. He shouldn't have been dogging it that week. :)
LOL. Seriously, the upside for the most of us is that we weren't any good when we were young, and therefore we have a lifetime of improvement ahead of us :)
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I peaked in the late '70's, immediately gave tennis 3rd class status, took up motocross and continued surfing. After 12 odd years, motocross was too hard on the body, surfing was too far away, and suddenly, tennis was a good summer alternate sport again. Good because it doesn't cost much money, good because I'd spent 4 full time years working at it, and good because I get some leg exercise (I don't when I windsurf).
Now with budding Yoga on the horizon (8th class total, I suck), tennis is looking better and better, even WITH a sprained ankle and popping shoulders. With the yoga came the climbing gym, which I almost abhor.
But take tennis seriously again? No chance, I can't play 5 days a week, 3 hours a day and still keep up my good looks.
 

chatt_town

Hall of Fame
Now this is a great subject. I played baseball til I was 40 and started tennis when I was 34. I think you are on to something and I think it depends on your approach. I'm grateful that I started when i did because I to have run into people that are late 20's early thirties that hate being out there now. They only do it because someone begs them to play. I play to meet and be around other people first and to kick @$$ second. So when I lose it's not that big of a deal to me.

I remember having a conversation with my wife about trying to be so good so soon. I remember telling her to enjoy the ride to the top because everyone at the top(4.5 and higher) seemed to be @sses or or just rude as hell. They didn't seem to be enjoying themselves not to mention it's hard to find players that want to play. All of them are afraid to take an @$$whipping. They complain about everything from the court they are playing on to the time they are playing to the opponents they are playing. By the time she decided to listen she was somewhat burned out and still is to some degree. I on the other hand am having the same amount of fun as I had in 2003. I to have played with some 80 yr old guys and thought as you did. Wouldn't it be great to still be able to hit a ball at 80.


QUOTE=doubleshack;6158976]Anecdotal evidence, it seems to me, the better you are, the sooner you give up the game of tennis.

I was at a club this morning, and saw a group of 'regulars' playing their weekly match. They were easily, almost 80 years old, one might have been in his 80's. First, I hope I live that long. Second, I'd also like to be fit enough to still be playing tennis. I was simply impressed with these men.

Was their tennis pretty? No. But, they enjoyed themselves, got some exercise, and spent time with their friends. It was interesting to watch. For example, every once in a while, a ball would bounce near a line and they would basically vote on whether it was in or out. The person who should have made the call would say, I didn't see it, do you? They would talk for a few minutes, might even go off on a tangent, but eventually they would decide as a group and everyone would accept and they'd play on.

My guess, during any part of their tennis playing years, they were never higher than 3.5. Just a guess, and I could be completely off, just trying to lay out the argument.

That was this morning, but then I recalled a conversation I had about a year ago, with someone who had played D1 tennis. Being a club level player, I found it interesting to talk with someone who had played at that level. I won't bore you with the small talk, but at one point, I said something to the effect of, if you are that good, you must play tennis all the time. He said no, actually, I've taken up golf.

At first, I was stunned. But then he explained that during college, he would practice for hours every day. Now, with other responsibilities, he can not practice like that so his game has dropped. It is actually kind of frustrating, because he knows the level of play he is capable of, but without the practice, he's just not there. He will never play that well again. So, he took up golf, for the simple fact that he is competitive, and right now, he's not a great golfer. But through what little practice he can squeeze in, he's getting better and that makes it enjoyable, improving.

Ok, as mentioned earlier, this is anecdotal. One weekly group of regulars and 1 ex-D1 player does not make empirical evidence. I know there are some top-flight players on this forum, and they still play. Are you the exception? Do most of your peers from years ago still play, or have they moved on to something else.

In general, once you stop improving, does tennis become 'less fun' and eventually you stop playing. Or does wisdom prevail and you realize that even though your skills may diminish, tennis is still worth playing.[/QUOTE]
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I guess, what is "worth playing"....
Does tennis take precedence over dropping into a 9' tube, sticking a hand into the face, stalling a bit before a laydown bottom turn, and climbing beyond vert to sideslip back into the face?
Does tennis feel better than windsurfing perfection? Fastest person on the water, every jibe perfectly planing, NO mistakes, no stalling, no stumbling?
Does tennis feel better than pushing yourself to hang with the serious riders, for 22 miles, at over your pace of 18 mph, taking your turn in the front, and knowing you have 10 miles more to get home?
Sometimes, sorta, when the conditions coincide with the gods and biorythums.
 

goober

Legend
^^^^ Stay thirsty my friend. We all can't lead as interesting lives as the most interesting man in the world. You should star in a beer commercial or something.
 

Bazinky

New User
I sound a LOT like your friend. I played DI tennis on a scholarship. I wasn't good enough to play pro, but I did practice a lot with some guys who had good success on tour. I've since taken up golf, and in fact didn't play tennis for 10 years before starting back now that I have a kid who is starting to show some interest.

I definitely was burned out after college, but I still enjoy a good hit. One huge problem (at least for me) was and is finding suitable practice partners whose tennis schedule fits with mine. It doesn't help that I've had to move several time for grad school and work, either. Add in a wife and child and it gets even worse.

I totally agree that once you stop improving tennis becomes much less enjoyable. Part of what I love about golf right now is that I get that same feeling I got as a junior when I was learning the game. I see that same light in my little girl's eyes when she hits a ball now, and it's starting to rekindle my own love of the game.

Anecdotal evidence, it seems to me, the better you are, the sooner you give up the game of tennis.

I was at a club this morning, and saw a group of 'regulars' playing their weekly match. They were easily, almost 80 years old, one might have been in his 80's. First, I hope I live that long. Second, I'd also like to be fit enough to still be playing tennis. I was simply impressed with these men.

Was their tennis pretty? No. But, they enjoyed themselves, got some exercise, and spent time with their friends. It was interesting to watch. For example, every once in a while, a ball would bounce near a line and they would basically vote on whether it was in or out. The person who should have made the call would say, I didn't see it, do you? They would talk for a few minutes, might even go off on a tangent, but eventually they would decide as a group and everyone would accept and they'd play on.

My guess, during any part of their tennis playing years, they were never higher than 3.5. Just a guess, and I could be completely off, just trying to lay out the argument.

That was this morning, but then I recalled a conversation I had about a year ago, with someone who had played D1 tennis. Being a club level player, I found it interesting to talk with someone who had played at that level. I won't bore you with the small talk, but at one point, I said something to the effect of, if you are that good, you must play tennis all the time. He said no, actually, I've taken up golf.

At first, I was stunned. But then he explained that during college, he would practice for hours every day. Now, with other responsibilities, he can not practice like that so his game has dropped. It is actually kind of frustrating, because he knows the level of play he is capable of, but without the practice, he's just not there. He will never play that well again. So, he took up golf, for the simple fact that he is competitive, and right now, he's not a great golfer. But through what little practice he can squeeze in, he's getting better and that makes it enjoyable, improving.

Ok, as mentioned earlier, this is anecdotal. One weekly group of regulars and 1 ex-D1 player does not make empirical evidence. I know there are some top-flight players on this forum, and they still play. Are you the exception? Do most of your peers from years ago still play, or have they moved on to something else.

In general, once you stop improving, does tennis become 'less fun' and eventually you stop playing. Or does wisdom prevail and you realize that even though your skills may diminish, tennis is still worth playing.
 
This is an interesting topic. Like many fairly strong junior players that possibly made poor decisions as a jr...I got frustrated that I couldn't go where I wanted to go to play in college. I shut it down. After nearly 15 years and moving back to our home town, a young guy that had heard I used to play started asking about me playing. I said, "I don't play tennis anymore". He started to somewhat trash talk. I ignored it but after he left the competitive/pride side of me started flipping out and I sought out the league he was in. From there, so many things happened to lure me back into tennis...on the coaching side, etc. That all being said, as a player I play for exercise, but it's totally different now...I'm a different person. I realize that I will never be the elite player (I'm a high 4.0-low 4.5) I was due to lack of time to invest in my game, nor the same hunger to prove I'm the best. Tennis isn't fun like it was...golf is more fun because I'm not supposed to be good. I can get better when I play and that makes it refreshing.
 

chollyred

Rookie
I totally agree that once you stop improving tennis becomes much less enjoyable. Part of what I love about golf right now is that I get that same feeling I got as a junior when I was learning the game. I see that same light in my little girl's eyes when she hits a ball now, and it's starting to rekindle my own love of the game.

Have to disagree here. The trick is finding good competition and comradery no matter what level you're at, and being willing to understand you can never be as good as you once were (kinda like the Toby Keith song :) ). I play with a group of seniors on Mondays and Fridays whenever I can get off work. I'm one of the youngest at 53. We have guys that are well up into their 80s that still play some very strong tennis. Some are still ranked low A and high B levels in ALTA. Several still play 4-5 times a week. Some played Div I and II tennis in college and still play today.

Mondays and Fridays are round robin with as many as 30 guys playing. There's a lot of social commentary and everybody kids and jokes and tries to whip each other's butts. They're still trying to improve as much as their bodies will let them. They're having to adapt to failing knees, shoulders, and even hearts, so their game plans and style of playing are constantly changing. But they're also friends who care about each other on and off the court (we have 5 out right now due to various medical conditions). These guys literally will play until they drop.

Check out the Champions Tour, those guys can't complete with Nadal, etc. but still love the game, practice constantly, and compete as hard as they ever did.
 

goran_ace

Hall of Fame
Another former DI college player from the 90's here. I walked away from the game shortly after college for several of the already mentioned reasons - burnout, school/life/work gets in the way, tennis feels like a job, not enough people to play/practice with. I think the biggest part of it is that goals/motivation change. Competing at a very high level is a lifestyle. It's a commitment to excellence. After a decade and a half of competing in juniors and college I felt like there was nothing left to play for.

I still keep in touch with my teammates I'd say half have quit the game entirely, haven't touched a racket since college and now do things like triathlons/marathons or play golf as their competitive ourlet. The other half (incl. me) quit for a few years but are now getting back into it for fitness and casual play but have no intention of getting serious with it again. Only one guy is playing tournaments/leagues (and went to 5.0 Nationals I hear) but I think he may have taken time off after college too.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
3 shark stories.
1. Pack of us sitting at Pedro S corner, 2-3', JeffClark wave hogging on a log, during a lull, a shark comes up between us and chomps down on FatDave's G&S 8'6"er. We all eject backwards off our boards into the water away from Dave, but never see the shark again. His board sat on display at SF SurfShop on Sloat for 20 years.
2. Kelly'sCove, with the full blown PowerSquadron out, BobbyTruelove goes berserk (well he's a coke and glue clown anyways) hyperventilates screaming bloody murder, surfaces dives draggin half his board underwater, comes up holding the tail of a 8' white shark, shark flailing for it's life, Bobby deathgrip, wide eyed, and turning blue. We avoid Bobby. He somehow drags the shark to shore (took maybe 20 minutes), and pummelled it with his fist, knees, and small rocks. We avoid shore and Bobby. Don't want to attract any shark buds, 30+ us in the water.
About an hour later, shark almost dead on shore, Bobby sleeping next to it, McCosker from Steinhardt shows up. He's got the pulse on shark sightings in our area. He says it's a white.
Bobby is now officially off the deep end, getting weirder by the moment, but survives like that (idiot behavior), for another 12 years.
3. Cronk, Marin's premier small/medium wave surf spot. I"m surfing the S swell lefts near the middle of the cove. 30+, packed, surfing the N end rights. They paddle screaming to shore, with spectators (at least another 20) screaming at the top of their lungs. Heck, a white is tearing into a pack of seals just outside the lineup, at the N end, 500 feet from me. I can see the froth of red and the splashing of white, and the cries from the seals. Some guys run down and scream at me to get out of the water. Why? I now have the waves to myself, and heck, the shark would need some incentive and some time to make it down to my area. I get 5 more waves before the ParkRanger's bullhorn me in. But guess what? I don't come in, the melee subsides at the N end, and other surfers are starting to paddle out! :)
 

newton296

Rookie
I 'll share my moment of greatness and how it led to my quiting competitive tennis for about 2 years. it all started for me in high school. I was a great athlete but never had lessons or played serious tennis until my junior year. I tried out for the team and what I remember was playing pretty bad. I knew being a good athlete wasn't enough and that my game wasn't up to snuff. that really motivated me to work on my game and take a few lessons. ( who knew there were different grips for a serve, forehand or backhand)

anyway, I remember getting better really fast by playing up in competition (nothing motivates you to play better like a 6-1 6-1 butt kicking) soon after this trial by fire I was recruited on to a 4.0 usta team that wanted a self rated 4.5 ringer for court one. I agreed and won all the 4.0 matches easily and we made it all the way to nationals thanks to me beating frank vo 6-3 6-2 (his first loss) in the regions. the coach was so excited to make nationals he set up 3 practices a week but my work got so busy I missed most of the practices. we butted heads over practice time and he decided too drop me from the nationals trip! I remember hating him for that. I quit the team and swore never too play competitive usta team tennis again. that was in 2004 and I have not played one usta event since. yep! I hated how competitive the usta had become, the constant sandbagging to hide good players, juggling lineups, recruiting fresh college players who weren't usta rated yet, team practices across town, etc etc. at some point I just started thinking is is this fun?

I knew it was time to take a break.
 

jc4.0

Professional
You should never stop playing tennis. I also know a group of 80+ year olds, and a couple of them play six days a week! Yeah, they don't hit the ball very hard but they have some tricky shots, and their ball control is exemplary. Plus they are a joy to be around, such great attitudes - consummate gentlemen. I see more older men than women around the park, actually.

I hope I can be like them and play until I drop. I know one lady who played up until a few days before she died of cancer - I know a couple of guys who had heart attacks on court and died quickly. Hope this doesn't sound macabre, but that's the way I'd like to go...
 

teAlexis

New User
I'm a senior and won't stop playing tennis. But I also like the thought of playing golf. Can't find a ping pong table at a recreational facility. Or I'd play ping pong. BTW at home I watch TTC all day long.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I've collected SS benefits since Feb.
PingPong tables cost $200, a drop in the bucket for most. Haven't found decent competition in the last 40 years.
Golf is a 1/4 that each round, but takes 5 hours most championship courses. Driving ranges cost $8, but still takes 1.5 hours. My legs don't like to walk 7,000 yards AND carry my 25lbs bag. Now TARGET golf, at the driving range, for score and $$$, is fun.
When I first started, I was a 24 year old amongst the super senior crowd. They breathed and lived tennis. I don't want to be like that.
 

JRstriker12

Hall of Fame
Seems like a lot of high-level players quit for about 10-15 years then come back to it once they get the hunger to play again.

I can't blame them. Playing at a high level can be a chore. It can be fun, but it's not fun for simple enjoyment, which keep many of us rec players on the courts.

I can also see how it can be a bummer to know you reached your peak and might not be able to reach that level again, whereas a person like my self is playing the best tennis of my life, having just been bumped to 4.0 two years ago, with the possibility or reaching 4.5.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Life's tough when you're a hasbeen..:)
When I took up tennis at 24, I knew I'd never play basketball or football like my high school years. Most of us have to give up what we did as youths, knowing it was just a "stage" in our lives.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
chollyred got it right "The trick is finding good competition".

No matter what level, tennis is very boring when you don't have an environment for competition and sometimes growth.
 

FloridaAG

Hall of Fame
Obviously this varies by individual. As a general matter, I think it often boils down to ego and level of enjoyment. 2 questions being:

1. As one ages and level of play naturally declines, can the person deal with that or is it to frustrating so they would rather not play at all then play at a diminished level

2. How much did the person really enjoy playing in the first place. 2 or 3 of the guys in Key West are in their 80s and were phenomenal players at one time, obviously are not any more although can still hit lethal shots if they don't have to move but they love playing so are always out there any way (as much as they can be anyway) - whereas many players were forced into playing, did it to get to college etc. and were not really fulfilled or loved playing.

Both of these apply to athletes in most sports (and other activities generally) but I think both often come into play for tennis players.
 

Maui19

Hall of Fame
...(nothing motivates you to play better like a 6-1 6-1 butt kicking)...

TRUE DAT!

I know a lot of really primo ski racers who left the sport once their competitive days began to wane. I always found this puzzling, since I loved skiing so much I couldn't image ever giving up the sport. Then skiing got boring for me.

I think people play different sports for different reasons. People who like a sport because it is challenging will tend to grow disenchanted with it when they stop getting better. Other people play a sport because they just love to play it (for example: me and golf. I just love the feel of a solidly struck iron. I don't even have to play--hitting balls on the range is good enough to make me happy).

So the answer to the OP's question is this: it varies. Federer will play forever because he simply loves the game, while other pros will quit once they are not competitive, because they find the game to be a grind.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Don't forget, when you're finally sitting on the beach at sunset looking at the horizon with a Corona by your side, that the horizon goes in more directions than you can see now, so you just might turn your head.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I don't need a beer commercial or film vid, mention in books, all that stuff.
I can just live my life by my standards.
 

KoaUka

Rookie
Don't forget, when you're finally sitting on the beach at sunset looking at the horizon with a Corona by your side, that the horizon goes in more directions than you can see now, so you just might turn your head.

A hottie in a thong bikini may also make you turn your head :)
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
It's a given the hottie is sitting on the chair next to you, with her own Corona, and she's sticking around. Why else would you sit on a beach at sunset?
 

cork_screw

Hall of Fame
People usually stop playing tennis when they encounter an injury that prevents them from performing.

I knew a guy at my club who hit a lot. He would spike the ball back with a lot of force and reminded me of thomas muster. He said he would play 5x a week from when he was a young teenager till he was in his late 30's. And played his hardest each time he got on the court. He said when he hit his 40's the cartillage and ligament in his shoulders erroded and the bone that was linking his clavical and his arm were grinding against each other causing a pocket of liquid to form under his skin. Eventually he stopped serving cause it was too painful and couldn't afford shoulder surgery. He stopped playing because he couldn't move his arm above his shoulder and didn't have any motion.

I also know a few people who have had severe knee issues that prevents them from moving around well, most of them are in their 50's.

I used to hit hard like I wanted to pound the ball in the ground everytime I took to the court. My wrist would start to hurt like it was going to break at the bone and sometimes I would hear popping sounds in my shoulder. This was when I was in my teens to early 20's. Since then I've taken it really easy and don't hit with as much vigor, but still throw a good pace ball around.

And all this happens over time. Your body breaks down no matter how well you care for it. Eventually it just goes. And I know, some people can play forever, I've seen a ton of 70/80 y/o at central park hitting and they don't hit hard and care for their bodies. But then there's people who hit medium/hard who played in college and they get serious injuries when they hit their mid age years. Things happen unexpetedly and I've been taking it easy on my body as I've aged. It's scary how one year you're doing well and the next year something serious happens out of nowhere. I'm sure there's some old timers here that can attest to that (even though I'm not old, I can relate). Your body's like a car, the first 5 years you can run it without worries, by the 12/15 + year mark you end up having to take it to the mechanic more and more.
 
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LeeD

Bionic Poster
Amen to that....
I"m 62. Have broken and needed pins, plates, wires, and screws on both legs, one arm, both hands. Have broken each collarbone twice. Have separated each shoulder and dislocated my hitting shoulder 3 times. Have torn my left medial collateral that took 2 years to walk straight. Now recovering from a 4th year ankle sprain. Not to mention over 10 broken or just cracked ribs, a plate in my head, and flat feet.
Ain't no fun when you're less than 1/2 what you used to be. Believe it.
And all along the while, there's just too many fun and interesting stuff to do in life besides just tennis. Tennis is great, mind you, but so is windsurfing, snowboarding, surfing, kiteboarding, motocross and road racing, bump skiing, waterski jumping, road and mountain bike riding, and tons of other "lifestyle" sports, for somebody or for me.
 

NLBwell

Legend
Seems like a lot of high-level players quit for about 10-15 years then come back to it once they get the hunger to play again.

I can't blame them. Playing at a high level can be a chore. It can be fun, but it's not fun for simple enjoyment, which keep many of us rec players on the courts.

I can also see how it can be a bummer to know you reached your peak and might not be able to reach that level again, whereas a person like my self is playing the best tennis of my life, having just been bumped to 4.0 two years ago, with the possibility or reaching 4.5.

Above is true in my experience. My dad is in his 80's and playing - he played as a kid, then started again as an adult to get in shape. Was one of the top couple players in the state. He had some periods of not playing in there.

I'm still playing. I got to a high level, then with getting married, getting a house, etc. I got frustrated losing to guys I used to beat and quit playing. My wife kept playing tennis when the kids were little and I got into it again after not playing for 8 years when I had a little more time when the kids getting were getting bigger and I started teaching my kids. Came back as a 5.0, but injuries and age have gradually dropped me to 4.0 after a lot of years. I play to be able to hit the balls and hang out with the guys on the team. Other guys take the matches seriously and I still don't like to lose, but I really don't take it seriously like I used to.
 
I intend on playing for as long as I'm able.

We've got old guys playing at our club in their 70's, and in doubles they still know their way around the court. As they grew up on grass, playing with wooden rackets they have a flatter style game and understand the game well enough to keep up with some of the younger players at the club, and play a competitive game with each other.

THe club has a list of 3 or 4 people who've collapsed and died in the middle of their tennis activities- and I say, why not? If you love the game, want to play and are able to go on, why not sacrifice 3 or 4 years at the end of your life in return for staying active until the very end.

I'm 34 (very nearly 35) so am realistically my best big serves and forehands are in my past, I feel the effects for a couple of days after a 6 set doubles match after work and it takes longer to feel ready to go again but I have no intention of giving up any time soon, I can drop down the local leagues a bit if I need to as well.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I love it.
A 34 year old saying his best serves are left in the past.
And all you guys who saw my vid say my serves suck. I'm 62. Maybe my serves might have been better when I was playing 6 days a week, 4 hours a day, at 27?
 
Not seen the best yet...

I love it.
A 34 year old saying his best serves are left in the past.
And all you guys who saw my vid say my serves suck. I'm 62. Maybe my serves might have been better when I was playing 6 days a week, 4 hours a day, at 27?

I used to play high school tennis in California and we were league champions. Then in my 20's and 30's I played doubles and was never in the right psychological place to win anything. I lacked the experience too. I felt like my playing was poor, no confidence at the net, and bad attitude. Now in the past 5 years, I have played better than I ever did, and I am way fitter and better able to read opponents and play the psychological game...My mentor and sometimes coach is turning 70 this year, and has had heart and prostate issues, but come through everything and is stronger than ever...He's a fantastic role model.

Lee, I am sure your serves are great...
 
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