Wilson climbs world rank­ings

East and Bays Courier - - P13 P46 - JACK­SON THOMAS

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.

JACK­SON THOMAS/STUFF

Ashley Wilson is num­ber four in the world.

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