Australian Henry Young made history last week, becoming the first competitor aged 100 to ever compete at the ITF Masters World Individual Championships.
The Adelaide-based Young, who was a fighter pilot in World War II, celebrated his 100th birthday last month.
He was in Spain for the 2023 ITF Masters World Individual Championships, where the world’s best players aged 65 and over were competing in Mallorca.
“It’s nice to be the first,” Young said of his record-breaking achievement. “It’s something that nobody can ever take away from me.”
Young proved he is not just making up numbers in the 90+ category either, scoring a 6-2 6-3 victory against 95-year-old Spaniard Mateo Camps Simon in the opening round of the men’s singles competition.
He then faced third-seeded Brit Gordon Oates, a 91-year-old, in the quarterfinals.
Young also competed in the men’s doubles event with German Gerhard Walkerling, who is 11 years his junior.
“I want to enjoy myself and I love tennis, that’s why I play,” Young told ITFTennis.com.
“I love the competitive spirit of tennis. I have been competitive all my life and that is what I love about the sport.”
Young is competing at the ITF Masters Individual World Championships for the first time since 2012.
Although he has not competed internationally for the past decade, Young still plays up to four times a week in Adelaide.
He was also invited to compete at Rod Laver Arena during a Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition at Australian Open 2023, where he faced 99-year-old Ukrainian Leonid Stanislavskyi in a ‘Battle of the Centurions’.
“I’ve got two new knees, a new hip, a pacemaker, hearing aids, two new noses and I’m still playing and enjoying it,” Young laughed.
“I think particularly when you’re very old, I think it’s very nice to have something that keeps you active.
“I’ll keep playing until I start embarrassing my doubles partners. I think I’ve got a few years left in me yet.”
Article first appeared at Tennis Australia on 18 October 2023