Livewire - 11 July 2012

LIVE WIRE Blackpool tennis player Tom Baron is the winner of a National Over 80s Tennis Championship.
LIVE WIRE Blackpool tennis player Tom Baron is the winner of a National Over 80s Tennis Championship.
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By Tom Baron, 80, of Marton, national tennis champion

I was four years old when Fred Perry won Wimbledon in 1936, and when Britain last had a doubles finalist, too.

Seventy six years on, I watched Andy Murray play inspirational tennis. My wife Chris was at Wimbledon, I watched the telly at home.

It was a fantastic match, but the better man on the day won.

Murray played incredible tennis. He was holding his own when they came off for the roof to go on at 1-1 in the third set.

We only saw the full might of Roger Federer’s armoury on return.

Murray’s beaten him before, but not on grass.

For the last five years, as a player myself, I’ve watched him develop, and always felt he was an exciting prospect, capable of playing the unexpected shots which can unnerve an opponent.

But he really raised his game, mentally as well as physically, after taking on Ivan Lendl as coach. He doesn’t throw his racket any more, or smack it against his hand, he’s not shouting – he’s putting all that passion into play, and making the next point.

I am also delighted he showed he was not some automaton, but only showed the sustained stress at the end when he lost.

I really hope he gets his game together again after some rest for the Olympics – and I hope Lendl will still be there.

Tennis should take heart from a Brit getting through to the finals – and Jonny Marray becoming the first Brit to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles title for 76 years with fellow wild card Frederik Nielsen, grandson of late, great Danish tennis player Kurt. Danny’s 31 and has just picked up £130k, last year he made £38k in a year, barely enough to pay his expenses.

It shows we’ve still got great players slogging away in the background, chasing tournament titles, even if Marray’s success was overshadowed by Murray’s defeat.

As for the oldies? Well, I’ve been selected for the GB team event in the world championships in Croatia in September. My wife plays in the individual tournament the second week. My team’s the so-called super seniors, 60 up to 85. I’ve had 24 years umpiring at Wimbledon, and the US Open in Florida, and done some coaching too. We play in the golden oldies at Cheltenham next month. It’s usually at Wimbledon, but has moved because of the Olympics.

My heart surgeon Joseph Zacharias made it all possible, thanks to my quadruple bypass in 2006 at Blackpool Vic. He’s a real winner. I like to win, but I love to play.