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Magnet Leisure Centre short tennis group holds farewell for pair, 95

The secret to playing tennis well into your nineties is ‘keeping off the gin and tonic’, a retiring member of a short tennis club has declared.

Joe McCulloch, 95, celebrated his birthday this month along with Ralph ‘Rudy’ Sheldon, 95.

Both have been long-standing members of the short tennis ‘Half Century’ group, which meets twice a week at the Magnet Leisure Centre.

The group – for over 50’s – gathers on Monday and Wednesday in Holmanleaze for a spot of the sport, which is played with four per court.

Short tennis is played on a small court with a small racket and a soft ball.

It was established in 1987 by Gina Macgregor, who held a special tea and cake session on Monday to say goodbye to the pair.

Both Joe, from Briar Dene, and Rudy, from Grosvenor Drive, are hanging up their rackets after decades, but Joe did indicate that he will be back for more in future when he feels ready.

He said: “It is a nice little group. It is a good organisation, and Gina keeps it all under control.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it. They are a nice group of people.”

When asked what his secret was to playing active sport deep into his nineties, Joe – who got back out on the court on Monday – added it was simply ‘keeping off the gin and tonic’.

Joe’s tennis companion Rudy, who has been with the club since it first started, added: “I do not think there is any particular secret. I think my diet is correct and I took a lot of exercise – I did a lot of walking with my wife.

“It was a good game – it makes you move about quite a bit and it is quite fun.

“I had not seen Joe since Christmas – it was really nice, people recognised me and came to talk to me. I enjoyed it very much.”

Group founder Gina Macgregor said: “It was absolutely fantastic – Joe even got a racket and went back on the court. He got on and played a little game.

“I just think it is fantastic that they still play short tennis and it shows that with a lot of exercise, it keeps your mind going. They are brilliant.

“It was a lovely day.”

She added: “We have between 25 and 30 there each week and we are always up for more members if anybody wants to play – they just have to be over 50.”

Phone the centre on 01628 685333 if you are interested.

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