70 Year-Old East Texan Leading Team To USTA Nationals - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/17/08-Gladewater

70 Year-Old East Texan Leading Team To USTA Nationals

Tennis is tough.

You have to have hand eye coordination, speed and endurance. Add father time to the equation and that tough sport for many would be unbearable.

At age 70, Big Sandy's Bob Conroy is still king on the court.

"I've probably been playing this game 60 years, so it's nice to still be going," Bob laughed.

None of his teammates were even born when Bob first picked up a tennis racquet. From youngest to oldest on his team, there is a 50 year age difference.

"Well you should see him play," teammate Mark Mercer said.  "There's not much difference there."

Bob lives and loves the game of tennis. He admits his feet are not quite as fresh but that does not stop him.

"The old saying about us old players is if you get up and something doesn't hurt, you're not alive," Bob grinned. "You just ignore it. The challenge of being able to play tennis and to do that will overcome the pain."

After six decades of tennis Bob's witnessed the evolution of a game,. He and teammate Gary Bowles remember when it was not so state of the art.

"When I was playing in high school," Gary said, "I hate to say it but we were using wooden rackets!"

"My wooden rackets were older than Gary," Bob admitted.

Bob and his nine member team won the right to represent Texas in the United States Tennis Association nationals this week.

"Probably less than half the people who play the game go to nationals," he explained. "This is probably my only shot at a national title, so to be a part of this team is pretty special."

His teammates credit Bob's 80 mile per hour serve and attention to detail for getting them to nationals.

"Uncle Bob takes care of everybody," teammate Bryan Gatons said, referring to Bob's nickname. "He lines up all the travel reservations and all that. I enjoy playing with him."

The tournament is in Indian Wells, California where at the same time the Pacific Life Open will host names like Federer and Sharapova this weekend. Bob said it's a dream come to be on that court, but he wants to set one thing straight.

"I keep telling these guys I want to challenge Maria (Sharapova) to three games," he said. "I just want to see if she hits the ball as hard as I think she does... but I think she does."
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