Veteran tennis players chasing gold in Gympie
GYMPIE will host more than 120 "out of town" tennis veterans this weekend as the Gold City Tournament kicks off today.
The tournament has 132 registered senior players across the age groups, ranging from over-35s to over-60s.
Gympie Queens Park Tennis Secretary Kym Ireland said the tournament has grown on last year's numbers.
"We've got 132 entries, 22 up on last year's 110.
"We have 120 from out of town.
"People coming from Sydney, from all over the place."
The tournament will run all weekend, and Ireland said this year's competition is strong.
"There will be some really good matches, some good quality players coming.
"Cash prizes, a few businesses donate locally, that really helps with the prize money."
Around $1800 worth of money will be awarded during the tournament.
Ireland, who was planning on competing but is currently out injured, said she is impressed with 14 entrants in the over-60 category.
"There's fourteen men in the over 60s.
"I hope to still be walking by then. My record isn't going too well at the moment," Ireland joked.
Gympie player Barry Hardingham, 62, has played tennis for over 50 years, and is hoping for a good tournament against stiff opposition.
"Predominantly, this tournament attracts a fairly strong field.
"They come from as far as Rockhampton and the Gold Coast.
"I'm in three events, it'll be a tough weekend of tennis.
"We attract a good crowd. The country atmosphere attracts a lot of players.
"I look forward to a great competition and the ability to win or lose, have a great weekend of tennis in a country environment."
When asked about his form going into the tournament, Hardingham was coy.
"I have been playing tennis for fifty years and I am still trying to find my form.
"I am still hoping to peak soon.
"I am hoping to peak tomorrow afternoon, actually."
Hardingham is in three events, the combined tennis on Friday afternoon with Warren Arnell, the men's over-60s singles on Saturday afternoon, and the men's over-60s doubles on Sunday with Graham Joseph.
Hardingham said his tournament plan relies on staying injury free.
"Well you know it's a case of waking up and hoping that the injury and soreness from doing nothing yesterday will go away.
"I am feeling as per always, confident. At the end of the day its about companionship, tennis, atmosphere and great sportsmanship."
The addition of eight new synthetic courts appears to be a drawcard for Gympie, as Hardingham said players love to compete in the town.
"They are low impact, low maintenance tennis courts, that and the fact they are safe, not like a dirt courts, that in itself attracts players.
"Gympie has been doing this tournament for many years. Generally its the first tournament of the veterans calendar.
"They've had their Christmas and they are itching to get back out on the court."
The Gold City Tournament is to be held at Queens Park this weekend, from Friday 1.00pm to Sunday afternoon.