Volleying with McEnroe at 80

News Jun 08, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

At nearly 80, Ross Somerville can send a lot of younger tennis players to the locker room with ease.

So it's no wonder Somerville held his own playing doubles with John McEnroe and Mark Philipoussis earlier this spring.

Somerville got the opportunity to smack some balls around the court with the two semi-retired professional players in Vancouver during the first weekend of May thanks to an early birthday present from his son Don.

Somerville confessed he didn't believe his son when he told him what they were going to do in Vancouver at the PowerShare Series, a touring tennis tournament that pits McEnroe – who won 148 titles in his career – and Philipoussis against other tennis greats such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash and others.

"I was skeptical," he said. "I thought, there are a thousand other people here, why would they want to play against me? When Don first told me, I didn't believe it. I didn't tell anyone else until after."

But it was all part of the birthday package. Somerville said he and his partner on the court managed to keep up with McEnroe and Philipoussis for "two or three minutes."

This reporter, not in any position to judge the performance, said he believes Somerville did very well.

"Yes, I did," Somerville said with no hesitation. "Some of the players were better than me. Some were not. But I still play tennis three times a week."

Don said other fans, some of whom could have been semi-pro players, complimented his dad's playing and couldn't believe he is almost 80.

It probably didn't hurt that Somerville wasn't starstruck by the experience, according to Don, and treated the tennis titans no different than any of his opponents.

"Dad has always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy," Don said. "He took it all in stride."

On top of his regular tennis games, Somerville said he eats healthy, but still indulges in fast food at least once a week.

And if he can't play tennis over the winter, he plays badminton twice a week.

Don says that when the two of them play, it's his dad who always wins.

"I don't mind admitting he cleans my clock," Don said, adding that ping pong is more his game, one they also enjoy playing together.

"I usually beat Don at tennis, but he doesn't play much," Somerville said. "Oh yeah, it makes me feel good."

He actually didn't start playing tennis until after he moved to Brantford with his wife Faith in 1969, and at age 40 started playing with a friend.

"I loved it, so I kept playing," he said.

Somerville said he didn't get a chance to talk to McEnroe because there were others waiting to play him, nor did he get his shirt signed, but he did get to see the temper that made the player infamous on the court.

"He had that personality, same as always," Somerville said. "He slammed his racquet down like he was mad, but I'm pretty sure it was all for show."

Don said he had hoped to treat his father to a similar event five years ago for his 75th birthday by taking him to the Canadian Open, but the timing didn't work out.

"With his 80th coming up, I thought 'I need to make this happen,'" he said. "When I heard about the PowerShares Series, it really pushed a button for me."

More than anything, it was a chance for Don and his dad to see McEnroe play live, after watching him play together for years when he was younger.

Don said the Vancouver show was the only Canadian date and he wanted to make the most of it.

"When I go to a show, I don't want to be up in the nose bleeds," he said. "I want the best seats, so I go all the way."

Somerville said their seats were 10 feet from the court.

"I was great," he said. "Something I never thought I'd do. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The also got to attend a VIP session where the fans enjoyed food, drink and the chance to ask their tennis heroes questions.

Somerville said he didn't ask a question, but really enjoyed the question-and-answer period.

He says eating properly and keeping active are important to his well-being. Somerville still works part-time for a car rental company after retiring twice: from Massey Ferguson and a vacuum business he ran. Having longevity in his genes doesn't hurt, either. His father lived to 93.

Somerville said he and Faith have been very active at their church.

"The Lord has been good to us," he said.

Volleying with McEnroe at 80

Ross Somerville realizes tennis dream

News Jun 08, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

At nearly 80, Ross Somerville can send a lot of younger tennis players to the locker room with ease.

So it's no wonder Somerville held his own playing doubles with John McEnroe and Mark Philipoussis earlier this spring.

Somerville got the opportunity to smack some balls around the court with the two semi-retired professional players in Vancouver during the first weekend of May thanks to an early birthday present from his son Don.

Somerville confessed he didn't believe his son when he told him what they were going to do in Vancouver at the PowerShare Series, a touring tennis tournament that pits McEnroe – who won 148 titles in his career – and Philipoussis against other tennis greats such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash and others.

"I was skeptical," he said. "I thought, there are a thousand other people here, why would they want to play against me? When Don first told me, I didn't believe it. I didn't tell anyone else until after."

But it was all part of the birthday package. Somerville said he and his partner on the court managed to keep up with McEnroe and Philipoussis for "two or three minutes."

This reporter, not in any position to judge the performance, said he believes Somerville did very well.

"Yes, I did," Somerville said with no hesitation. "Some of the players were better than me. Some were not. But I still play tennis three times a week."

Don said other fans, some of whom could have been semi-pro players, complimented his dad's playing and couldn't believe he is almost 80.

It probably didn't hurt that Somerville wasn't starstruck by the experience, according to Don, and treated the tennis titans no different than any of his opponents.

"Dad has always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy," Don said. "He took it all in stride."

On top of his regular tennis games, Somerville said he eats healthy, but still indulges in fast food at least once a week.

And if he can't play tennis over the winter, he plays badminton twice a week.

Don says that when the two of them play, it's his dad who always wins.

"I don't mind admitting he cleans my clock," Don said, adding that ping pong is more his game, one they also enjoy playing together.

"I usually beat Don at tennis, but he doesn't play much," Somerville said. "Oh yeah, it makes me feel good."

He actually didn't start playing tennis until after he moved to Brantford with his wife Faith in 1969, and at age 40 started playing with a friend.

"I loved it, so I kept playing," he said.

Somerville said he didn't get a chance to talk to McEnroe because there were others waiting to play him, nor did he get his shirt signed, but he did get to see the temper that made the player infamous on the court.

"He had that personality, same as always," Somerville said. "He slammed his racquet down like he was mad, but I'm pretty sure it was all for show."

Don said he had hoped to treat his father to a similar event five years ago for his 75th birthday by taking him to the Canadian Open, but the timing didn't work out.

"With his 80th coming up, I thought 'I need to make this happen,'" he said. "When I heard about the PowerShares Series, it really pushed a button for me."

More than anything, it was a chance for Don and his dad to see McEnroe play live, after watching him play together for years when he was younger.

Don said the Vancouver show was the only Canadian date and he wanted to make the most of it.

"When I go to a show, I don't want to be up in the nose bleeds," he said. "I want the best seats, so I go all the way."

Somerville said their seats were 10 feet from the court.

"I was great," he said. "Something I never thought I'd do. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The also got to attend a VIP session where the fans enjoyed food, drink and the chance to ask their tennis heroes questions.

Somerville said he didn't ask a question, but really enjoyed the question-and-answer period.

He says eating properly and keeping active are important to his well-being. Somerville still works part-time for a car rental company after retiring twice: from Massey Ferguson and a vacuum business he ran. Having longevity in his genes doesn't hurt, either. His father lived to 93.

Somerville said he and Faith have been very active at their church.

"The Lord has been good to us," he said.

Volleying with McEnroe at 80

Ross Somerville realizes tennis dream

News Jun 08, 2015 by Mike Peeling Brant News

At nearly 80, Ross Somerville can send a lot of younger tennis players to the locker room with ease.

So it's no wonder Somerville held his own playing doubles with John McEnroe and Mark Philipoussis earlier this spring.

Somerville got the opportunity to smack some balls around the court with the two semi-retired professional players in Vancouver during the first weekend of May thanks to an early birthday present from his son Don.

Somerville confessed he didn't believe his son when he told him what they were going to do in Vancouver at the PowerShare Series, a touring tennis tournament that pits McEnroe – who won 148 titles in his career – and Philipoussis against other tennis greats such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash and others.

"I was skeptical," he said. "I thought, there are a thousand other people here, why would they want to play against me? When Don first told me, I didn't believe it. I didn't tell anyone else until after."

But it was all part of the birthday package. Somerville said he and his partner on the court managed to keep up with McEnroe and Philipoussis for "two or three minutes."

This reporter, not in any position to judge the performance, said he believes Somerville did very well.

"Yes, I did," Somerville said with no hesitation. "Some of the players were better than me. Some were not. But I still play tennis three times a week."

Don said other fans, some of whom could have been semi-pro players, complimented his dad's playing and couldn't believe he is almost 80.

It probably didn't hurt that Somerville wasn't starstruck by the experience, according to Don, and treated the tennis titans no different than any of his opponents.

"Dad has always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy," Don said. "He took it all in stride."

On top of his regular tennis games, Somerville said he eats healthy, but still indulges in fast food at least once a week.

And if he can't play tennis over the winter, he plays badminton twice a week.

Don says that when the two of them play, it's his dad who always wins.

"I don't mind admitting he cleans my clock," Don said, adding that ping pong is more his game, one they also enjoy playing together.

"I usually beat Don at tennis, but he doesn't play much," Somerville said. "Oh yeah, it makes me feel good."

He actually didn't start playing tennis until after he moved to Brantford with his wife Faith in 1969, and at age 40 started playing with a friend.

"I loved it, so I kept playing," he said.

Somerville said he didn't get a chance to talk to McEnroe because there were others waiting to play him, nor did he get his shirt signed, but he did get to see the temper that made the player infamous on the court.

"He had that personality, same as always," Somerville said. "He slammed his racquet down like he was mad, but I'm pretty sure it was all for show."

Don said he had hoped to treat his father to a similar event five years ago for his 75th birthday by taking him to the Canadian Open, but the timing didn't work out.

"With his 80th coming up, I thought 'I need to make this happen,'" he said. "When I heard about the PowerShares Series, it really pushed a button for me."

More than anything, it was a chance for Don and his dad to see McEnroe play live, after watching him play together for years when he was younger.

Don said the Vancouver show was the only Canadian date and he wanted to make the most of it.

"When I go to a show, I don't want to be up in the nose bleeds," he said. "I want the best seats, so I go all the way."

Somerville said their seats were 10 feet from the court.

"I was great," he said. "Something I never thought I'd do. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The also got to attend a VIP session where the fans enjoyed food, drink and the chance to ask their tennis heroes questions.

Somerville said he didn't ask a question, but really enjoyed the question-and-answer period.

He says eating properly and keeping active are important to his well-being. Somerville still works part-time for a car rental company after retiring twice: from Massey Ferguson and a vacuum business he ran. Having longevity in his genes doesn't hurt, either. His father lived to 93.

Somerville said he and Faith have been very active at their church.

"The Lord has been good to us," he said.