Man looking to defend over-90s title

Tennis Fool
08-22-2005, 12:08 AM Mulloy, 92, on the tennis court at Fisher Island in Florida. He'll be defending two titles for men over 90 next weekend at Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

August 21, 2005
The Lion in Summer

THE five pleasures of life, Gardnar Mulloy says, are eating, exercise, sleeping, bathing and sex.

Mr. Mulloy has had ample time and experience to compile his list. He will be 92 in November; was married to a campus beauty queen for 55 years; thrives on a diet of milk, vegetables and fruit; easily navigates the crowded causeways of Dade County; and still plays tournament tennis - doubles and singles.

If he successfully defends his national titles in the over-90 championships at the Longwood Cricket Club outside Boston starting Saturday, no one will be surprised. He has won 129 national titles, a Wimbledon doubles crown at 43, and is enshrined in nine halls of fame.

"He's 91, I'm 84," said Pancho Segura, the venerable teaching professional, whom Mr. Mulloy recruited to the University of Miami's tennis team from Ecuador more than six decades ago. "When I grow up, I want to be like him. "

At a time when 24 percent of "frequent" tennis players are over 50, Mr. Mulloy has become what Bob Sherman, 85, a sometime competitor, calls "the godfather" of senior tennis. More than 77,000 players over 60 are registered with the United States Tennis Association and, amazingly, 3,548 are in the over-80 category. Longwood is expecting about a dozen players over 90 to duel on its grass courts next weekend.

"We talk of tennis as a lifetime sport," said Tony Trabert, the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "And he's living proof."

Mr. Mulloy lives in a modest Southern-style three-bedroom house in the historic Spring Garden neighborhood with five dogs and four cats he rescued over the years. He keeps his shipload of sterling silver cups and trophies in his unair-conditioned living room in floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets designed by his wife, Madeleine Cheney Mulloy, who died 12 years ago.

The shock of hair that inspired the comedian Alan King to nickname him Silver Fox is now pure white; the 6-foot-1 frame is still trim and tanned. His eyes close as he reflects on years as a lawyer, the lieutenant commander of a Navy landing ship during World War II, and his exploits as a tennis champion.

"I'm sort of a renegade," he said. "I used to fight with the U.S.T.A. because I thought their thinking was archaic. And I always do what I think is right."

Admittedly impatient and sarcastic at times, he is given to raising his voice to make a point so sharply that a Danish musician he'd befriended on a plane returning from Wimbledon fled the house in search of a taxi. Mr. Mulloy was once suspended for six weeks in a dispute over expenses at a time when amateurs tried to survive on under-the-table payments.

He still defends himself vigorously on court against questionable calls, still argues with the tennis association over its decisions on rankings and rule changes. "I don't know why I'm always in hot water with those guys," he said.

But friends, family and former shipmates describe a kind and generous man. He was a founder of a local PetRescue chapter long before animal rights became fashionable, and his ability "to live his life the way he wanted to live it," said his daughter Diane Mulloy Mazzone, "has few equals."

Mr. Mulloy's family, which includes another daughter, Janice Poindexter, has often heard his pleasures-of-life pitch. "What are you worried about?" and "We won't buy it unless we need it" and "Isn't that too bad?" are stock comments, repeated over and over again. He has also kept a book of sayings, his and those of others, since 1968. He eats only two meals a day (breakfast and dinner), dislikes yoga ("I don't understand it") but is emphatic about the benefits of massage ("next to sex, that's the best feeling").

Mr. Mulloy credits his mother, Clara, an artist, dietitian and direct descendant of Israel Putnam (one of George Washington's major generals during the Revolutionary War), for his vegetarian ways. "She attended every food lecture that came to town and dragged me to most of them," he said, recalling her homemade breads and seaweed salads. He does not smoke or drink, shuns sugar and carbonated water and occasionally takes a day off from eating to cleanse his digestive system.

While many of his contemporaries have been sidelined with hip and knee replacements, back pain and failing eyesight, his primary concessions are to avoid hard courts ("I play only when I have to"); to eat meat only at banquet dinners ("because I've got to eat something"); and to let younger partners cover lobs ("I don't have the balance I used to have").

And he doesn't sweat. Not even after a lively hourlong midday workout with me on the clay courts at Fisher Island, where he served as director of tennis for seven years and is now director emeritus. He sees younger players sweating and swigging water on changeovers and says, "They drink too much, and they're always changing shirts." He is mystified by the relentless grunting on the court and the endless talking among doubles partners between every point.

"What are they talking about all the time?" he asked. "All I know is if my partner ever talked to me as much as they do now, I'd tell him to shut up."

Among today's players, he likes Roger Federer, the Wimbledon champion who is ranked No. 1 in the world. "He's not only a great player, but he doesn't overact after he wins," said Mr. Mulloy, who believes many players today are excessively demonstrative on the court.

"After winning a point, these guys will go onto a bunch of emotions, which is an insult to an opponent," he said. "I can't stand the pumping and yelling and look-who-I-am approach. Every picture of a tennis player now has them pumping their arms, with their mouths wide open."

If he had to pick one player in the sport's history to win one big match, he said it would be Bobby Riggs, a surprise given a field that includes Rod Laver, Bill Tilden and John McEnroe. Riggs, the 1939 Wimbledon champion, is best remembered for his defeat at the hands of Billie Jean King in the "battle of the sexes" match in Houston in 1973.

"Riggs was wily," he said. "He could adjust to anything. Play any style. He didn't have the power of bigger players, but he had enough to penetrate your defenses."

Mr. Sherman, who has known Mr. Mulloy for 40 years, attributes his longevity on the court to the way he plays. "He's a one-pace guy," Mr. Sherman said, "which is good enough." ( I can confirm this after our interesting rallies.) "He floats around and paces himself," Mr. Sherman continued, "and that particular pace has kept him from getting injured."

Good genes help, too. Mr. Mulloy's mother died at 96. He has two sisters, now 90 and 81.

Older players don't have to change their games for success, Mr. Mulloy said. He uses the drop shot and lob more - I paid the price for that - and compensates for power loss by hitting higher over the net for depth. If he is slower now, so are his tournament opponents.

Not that certain rituals haven't helped along the way: Mr. Mulloy never steps on a line between points, holds three balls when he serves and switches the face of his racquet after losing a point.

"People come to me and say, 'What fun do you have?' " he said. "I say, I have a lot of fun. I don't have any hangovers. My fun is clean living and enjoying the sunset and sunrise."

08-22-2005, 12:13 AM
Good for him :yeah:

08-22-2005, 12:22 AM
What a guy! He's become my idol! I hope he defends those titles :)

"Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Mass." Cricket club in the USA? That's almost as amazing as the life of Gardnar Mulloy! :eek:

Tennis Fool
08-22-2005, 12:31 AM
What a guy! He's become my idol! I hope he defends those titles :)

"Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Mass." Cricket club in the USA? That's almost as amazing as the life of Gardnar Mulloy! :eek:
Longwood was where the first Davis Cup matches were played.

This is a tangent but here ya go:Cricket in America
An Historical Summary

If modern cricket is dated from the 1780s, when the Laws of Cricket which still rule the sport today were first formalized in England, North America would have to be considered a major participant in the world cricket scene for two-thirds of the time that modern cricket has been around.

The first cricket clubs in the USA were established in the 1700s, not long after they made their first appearance in England. Originally played by officers of the British Army with local landed gentry predisposed to be Anglophiles, cricket became a major recreation of American gentlemen of leisure….and indeed, several Founding Fathers of the United States were known to be avid cricketers---John Adams among them, who stated in the US Congress in the 1780s that if leaders of cricket clubs could be called "presidents", there was no reason why the leader of the new nation could not be called the same!

Eastern Canada had developed cricket clubs as well, shortly after the US clubs had made their initial appearance. Both US and Canadian cricket clubs roamed far and wide in search of competitive cricket, as was the custom in those times. Soon, an animated cross-border traffic developed, and it was out of that friendly rivalry that the first international cricket developed in the modern world.

The first annual Canada vs. USA cricket match, played since the 1840s, was attended by 10,000 spectators at Bloomingdale Park in New York. The USA vs.Canada cricket match is the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating even today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years.

Touring teams from the West Indies, England and Australia were playing in the USA and Canada until the 1920s. In one of the last such established tours, the Australian team with Don Bradman among them played in Canada and the USA, leading to the naming of Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC as his "favorite cricket ground" by the great Sir Don himself.

The USA also sent touring sides abroad. It achieved its greatest success when a national USA side defeated the West Indies by nine wickets in an international match in British Guyana in the 1880s.... see "USA vs. West Indies: Our Finest Hour" for a report on this victory, elsewhere on this Web Site.

Cricket declined in the USA in the 20th century because in the late 1800s it had remained a strictly amateur elite sport at the same time that England, then Australia, were developing a professional system that allowed full-time players to participate. In the halcyon days of amateur cricket, talented North Americans could sometimes hold their own on the field with the best the world had to offer. But as cricket standards improved elsewhere in the world by becoming semi-professional and then fully professional, many North American cricket clubs stayed stubbornly elitist…abandoning cricket, they converted their facilities to recreations like golf and tennis.

Then, there was this urban (and local) recreation originally called "townball", which had developed out of cricket. Unlike cricket, townball could be played in small city squares and compact urban spaces, rather than spacious cricket parks. Some city cricket clubs, viewing it as an auxiliary entertainment, had even sponsored the first "baseball" teams, as they came to be called (see How baseball REALLY developed in America for a full report). After 1900, baseball took over the American scene, created its independent mythology, and obviated the sport that gave it birth. In a few decades, cricket in America had become only a memory.

The eclipse of American cricket was aided and abetted by developments in the British Empire. The British, it appears, were not at all enthusiastic about US participation in world cricket. The Imperial Cricket Conference which was formed to coordinate the worldwide development of the sport specifically excluded countries from outside the British Empire from any role in the proceedings. This exclusionary policy certainly undercut any momentum to professionalize cricket in the USA, although whether the momentum would have developed even in the presence of a more open ICC remains a question.

After a near-total eclipse in the 1930s, US cricket began its long climb up from obscurity when first British and later, Caribbean and South Asian immigrants began entering North America is substantial numbers after World War II.

Unlike the US cricketers of the 19th century, these cricketers were a new breed. Rather than being gentlemen of leisure, many of these newcomers were small businessmen, salaried professionals and working-class cricket enthusiasts who made up in dedication what they may have lacked in civility. They brought with them a steadfast commitment to the "new" cricket they had learned to play at home---a fierce sport where many of the genteel norms of the early British era had gradually been discarded, to be replaced by a raucous community ethos which kept folks in good spirits through good times and bad. Cricket-playing urban enclaves developed around these communities, spreading by osmosis into the American heartland as the immigrant populations dispersed themselves through America's body politic.

Meanwhile, a different and less pleasant "rediscovery" of American cricket made its appearance in the 1970s. As cricket-loving immigrant populations grew in number in North America, their potential as a wealthy captive audience and a source of profit dawned on entrepreneurs, corporations, and organizations wanting in on the good thing. Even Disney and the ICC have been dancing around the issues in search of opportunities to make money off cricket in America.

The dilemma this creates for US cricket in the 21st century is obvious. Should American cricket-lovers spend their money to see first-class cricketers from the rest of the world perform in local venues? Or should they invest their cash in developing local talent, eschewing the spectacle of first-class exhibitions for a gradual development of indigenous cricket? These options may not be mutually exclusive, but given the limited resources available for cricket in the USA in the first place, some difficult choices lie ahead.

Meanwhile, the face of world cricket is changing. With the new International Cricket Conference, there has been an expansion of cricket into countries that were never part of the British Empire. Countries like Argentina, Holland and the Arab Emirates are now able to play in world cricket, and this may well be the biggest change that has occurred in the sport in modern times. Perhaps the USA can recover its century-old memories of preeminence in the cricket scene, and become a major participant in world cricket in the 21st century.

08-22-2005, 01:33 AM
charming :hug:

08-22-2005, 03:12 AM
Gardnar Mulloy

:worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

08-22-2005, 05:04 AM
I hope I can still walk or think normally when I'm 90....if I get even close to that.

Angle Queen
08-22-2005, 12:05 PM

I keep telling the little 20-somethings I play (and beat :devil: ) that it's a sport for a lifetime. Mr Mulloy is indeed living proof.

08-22-2005, 01:20 PM
He looks young for his age.

Mrs. B
08-22-2005, 01:23 PM
He looks young for his age.

It's those vegies & fruits! :cool:

08-22-2005, 01:25 PM
It's those vegies & fruits! :cool:

Perhaps I will also look as young as him when I turn 90 being a veggie myself. :angel:

08-22-2005, 01:28 PM
over 90? those dudes should bein their coffins

Angle Queen
08-22-2005, 04:03 PM
over 90? those dudes should bein their coffinsMaybe he's stayed out of the coffin...cause he's still playin' ;)

08-22-2005, 04:08 PM
Not that impressive, i am sure that Roger could beat him, in a good day! ;)

08-22-2005, 05:30 PM
Maybe he's stayed out of the coffin...cause he's still playin' ;)


ae wowww
08-22-2005, 09:05 PM
:lol: What a LEGEND :D!

08-22-2005, 09:08 PM
He should come to the ATP and try to beat JesusFed :devil:

08-22-2005, 10:02 PM
Wow...good for him :)

Stevens Point
09-12-2005, 01:24 PM
Just a reminder. Mr. Mulloy could not defend his title... He lost to a 90 year old player (younger than him).
Then find "Tennis: Sport For All Ages" to view the video..

09-12-2005, 01:28 PM

:woohoo: :bounce: :yeah:

Tennis Fool
09-12-2005, 04:24 PM
Just a reminder. Mr. Mulloy could not defend his title... He lost to a 90 year old player (younger than him).
Then find "Tennis: Sport For All Ages" to view the video..
Oh, that's too bad.
I'm sure he's happy the Roger won though. :)