Lewisburg seniors win gold
Playing tennis at the Lewisburg Recreation Center has a very competitive side, especially for the senior group that has been gathering on the court for four decades to stay in shape and hone their skills.
"It is very competitive out here, that's why I like playing with the group," Robert Ward said.
"We have fun, people chatter and have fun, but we all want to win."
The hard work and solid competition has paid off for five members of the group as Jane Tilford, Jack Webb, Todd Tietgens, Robin Baldwin and Ward all captured gold medals June 23 at the Tennessee State Senior Olympics at the Williamson County Indoor Sports Complex in Brentwood.
"We have a group here that has played five days a week and I'm the only girl, and they have let me play with them all these years. Jack and I have been playing for 40 years," Tilford said. "For me, going to a competition is different because the only women I get to play against here is Rachel Wolfe."
Wolfe is a former Marshall County High School standout and attended Martin-Methodist University in Pulaski on a tennis scholarship.
"Sometimes it takes me a while to get the pace down because I'm used to the pace of the guys, like at the tournament when it took me an entire set," Tilford said.
Tilford and Ward, who won the mixed doubles event last year, had a goal to repeat this season. The duo won the gold medal in style, defeating Larry Newport and Terrie Roundtree 6-3, 6-0 in the championship match.
Tilford and Ward now get to chase another dream. The pair travels to Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend to compete in the national Senior Olympics where they'll play their first match July 6 in the 60-64 age division.
"We're very excited and have been looking forward to this for more than six months," Tilford said, speaking for both she and her partner. "We want to win, it's kind of one and done and we don't want to be in the consolations.
"We have been taking this very seriously and we've been practicing a lot so we know when we get there, we want to know we gave it our best."
The tournament runs through July 9 with the finals at the University of Minnesota.
"There is some real good competition up there, we start with a match versus a team from Delaware," Ward said. "The runners-up from last year are in it, the gold and silver medalists from the younger groups are in it, the consolation winners from last year are in it and so we have to win four matches, so it is going to be tough."
Tietgens and Baldwin competed in the 50-54 group in Brentwood, winning 6-1, 6-0 in the first round over Neal Pascal and Bert Templeton from Chattanooga. The championship match was a war on the court as the Lewisburg duo took on twins Terry and Tony Bartley from Memphis.
The match was split after the first two sets with both duos winning 7-5, forcing a deciding tiebreaker that was won by Tietgens and Baldwin 10-7.
"We had all we could handle in that final, we barely got by," Tietgens said.
Ward and Floyd competed in the 60-64 doubles group and won by default in the first round before dominating Carl Boron and Charles Hawkins 6-0, 6-1 in the final to win the gold.