The life of a young tennis star appears enviable. They travel around the world, meeting equally attractive, rich, and famous people all while playing the sport they love for a living.
When these same young stars have grown past their prime, they’ll likely look back and long for the glory days of fame and fortune.
At 82 years old, the newest Rogers Cup Hall of Fame inductee Lorne Main, a Vancouver native, isn’t longing for anything except his next tournament.
“It’s a great life I’m having in my old age. I feel good. Tennis has been in my life and kept me fit,” he says.
He only has to wait until September to compete again, when he’ll travel to Croatia for a Senior World Championship tournament.
“I am the World Champion right now. 80 to 85. So I’m going back to Croatia to defend my title in September and I’ve won 13 of these World Singles,” Main says, grinning.
With his slicked white hair, deep tan and tailored suit jacket, it’s clear Main puts as much effort into keeping his style as up-to-date as his tennis skills.
Listening to Main talk about his tournament schedule differs from listening to Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in only one noticeable way. Main has decades more stories to tell and memories to draw upon. He has an anecdote for every question he’s asked.
Though he has more of them, his tales are probably still relatable for the young, handsome guys on today’s tour.
“Now I’m actually travelling with a beautiful Australian girl, and she’s won a couple of world championships and so we’re going to Croatia together, and we’ve been traveling across the United States together and she’s just a great gal, and she’s a little younger than me, but that’s alright!” Main says enthusiastically. Globetrotting with a young lady? All in a days work for star athletes.
“And we won the national Australian mixed doubles championships. I had to drop down to the 60s to play with her,” Main says, pausing for chuckles. “But we did, and we won the national title.”
Main’s list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. He has 39 world championship titles, making him the most successful senior tennis player ever.
He was presented with the first-ever ITF Award for Outstanding Achievements in Senior Tennis at the ITF World Champions Dinner in Paris this past June, and now he’ll enter the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame in the company of other tennis greats.
Though he calls these achievements a “great honour”, Main recognizes how different the level of play is compared to when he was competing at the Rogers Cup.
“Tennis has progressed so far. It’s not just the racquets; it’s the fitness, and the stroking of a ball that’s so heavy now. Unbelievable,” says Main.
“I love all the old-timers… (But) I hate to say the players of today would be so far superior that it would be very hard for any of those players to win a set off of (Roger) Federer, Djokovic, Nadal or Andy Murray right now,” he adds.
All accolades aside, Main says the greatest honour he’s had over his very expansive careers is playing for Canada.
“I think it’s the best thing in the world to represent your country and we do it every year in seniors now. It’s a great thing to have for me to still compete like that and represent your country.”