Wilson climbs world rankings
East Auckland man Ashley Wilson has been confirmed as New Zealand’s highest ranked tennis player at the ripe old age of 85.
It is quite some feat. Even New Zealand tennis great Chris Lewis, who made the 1983 Wimbledon final, only had a career-high singles ranking of 19.
Wilson’s rapid rise on the international scene has seen him climb more than 70 places in the world rankings this year alone.
International Tennis Federation (ITF) stats show the Kohimarama stalwart now sits fourth in the world in the mens 85+ category.
The ITF is the same governing body which overseas many major professional tennis events, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Tennis New Zealand confirmed Wilson as the country’s highest ranked player across all gender, age, professional and amature grades.
He’s just returned from playing seven tournaments in seven countries across Europe and was preparing to head to the senior world team championships in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.
‘‘I was always quite an average player to be honest, I didn’t even make my university tennis team,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘I am only really hitting my straps this year. And at 85 would you believe.’’
Wilson’s favourite player, past or present, was former grand slam champion and current mens singles world number two, Roger Federer.
Federer has won more than $100 million in prize money throughout his career, a total dwarfed by his off-court earnings from appearances endorsements.
Though seniors tennis didn’t have ‘‘quite that much cash swirling around’’, Wilson said there were times when tournament organisers made players feel like a pro.
‘‘When you are at a world championship event and you sit down there is often a bottle of water and a warm towel next to and you. That’s the only time playing senior tennis that you think you are a bit like Roger but my word you’re not,’’ he said.
Wilson met his late wife through the Kohimarama Tennis Club, a club he had been a member of for more than 50 years.
Tennis was a sport for people of all ages and sizes and was a great way to stay fit and make friends, he said.
Ashley Wilson is number four in the world.