[HEALTH]A senior smashes away at the years on court

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[HEALTH]A senior smashes away at the years on court

Choi Jae-jeong was born in 1919 when the nation was being swept by the March 1 independence movement.
So what else is special about this 87-year-old man? For starters, he’s a tennis player, and what’s more, he’s pretty good.
Mr. Choi started playing when he was in middle school and has enjoyed the sport for more than 70 years. Even at his age, he plays tennis four times a week, two to three hours at a time.
Although he’s never been a professional and just counts tennis as one of his hobbies, Mr. Choi is one of the top tennis players in his age group. His serve is very strong, like a pro, and he refuses to only go for light shots, preferring a more comprehensive game.
“It’s not easy, even for younger players, to receive my strong serve,” Mr. Choi said proudly. “Aside from that, isn’t it just great that I am going to the tennis court at this age?”
In his house, located in Bundang, Gyeonggi province, dozens of trophies he has won since he reached his 60s are displayed like national treasures. He has won the international seniors tennis tournament in Beijing twice and placed second once, participating in the competition 12 times since his 70th birthday. He also won several seniors’ tennis tournaments in Korea last year.
In addition, Mr. Choi has consecutively been elected chairman of the Korea Seniors Tennis Federation.
“At a seniors’ tournament, one match is one set long and is played as a doubles event,” said Mr. Choi. A set is six games in Korea and eight at international tournaments.
“In order to win the tournament, one must play five to six matches in a day,” he added, thus one should have enough physical strength to play for five to six hours.
During his decades of playing tennis, he has suffered from tennis elbow with its symptomatic pain in the outer part of the elbow. “Ten years ago, I couldn’t even hold my spoon, but I went out to the court the next day after only getting physiotherapy,” he said.
“While exercising, older people sometimes workout too much, thinking they are younger than their actual age. It is important not to fall into this trap.”
According to Mr. Choi, someone older than 60 should do warm-up exercises for 20 minutes and should not play for more than two hours at a time. Also, a senior player should not cling to winning, and just enjoy the game and the interaction with others.
Mr. Choi considers tennis as his companion that protects his health. He said playing tennis helps him to sleep and eat better, and reduces anxiety and stress that he considers the cause of all diseases.
Mr. Choi is 155 centimeters (5.1 feet) tall, and has maintained his weight at 58 kilograms (127.9 pounds) for dozens of years. He does not have diabetes or other illnesses and just takes one pill a day in order to keep his blood pressure normal, as it has been getting a little higher as he has gotten older.
“I’m planning to participate in one or two seniors’ tournaments this year. Those who have good records receive a high seed at the competition. And they are then matched with a lower seed in a doubles team. I hope I manage to get a good partner.”
Mr.Choi is very enthusiastic about tennis and is planning to participate in competitions at least until he reaches his 90th birthday. His only regret about his sporting hobby is that his wife, Gu Bok-jeom, 84, doesn’t play the game with him.

by Park Tae-kyun
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