Gail Falkenberg to return to professional tennis at 74

USA's Gail Falkenberg is set return to professional tennis at 74 this week

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Gail Falkenberg will return to professional tennis at 74 this week

We knew tennis is getting older, but Gail Falkenberg has pushed the boundaries even further as she gears up for a professional tennis comeback at the age of 74.

The American has signed up for women’s Futures event in Naples, Florida and will make her comeback in the qualifying round. She will France’s Tiphanie Fiquet in the first round of qualifiers of the USD 25,000 W25 clay-court event.

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This will be the first tournament Falkenberg will be competing at in three years.

She last played the qualifying event of the ITF Futures event in Jackson, MS in April 2018.

During a 2016 interview with Spazio tennis, when asked about why she kept playing tennis, Falkenberg said, “Playing tennis keeps me young and healthy. I play 5 or 6 times a week and am self-coached.

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“I was also very good in basketball and softball. I went to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and received my BA and MFA degrees in the late 60’s.

“There I played on their very first tennis and basketball teams. At the same time Arthur Ashe played tennis and Kareem Jabbar played basketball for legendary coach John Wooden.”

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Though Falkenberg turned pro in the 1980s, she hasn’t quite been able to strike it big. On the WTA Tour, she has a win-loss record of 15-11 and reached a career high of 360 in 1987.

Playing opponents more than five decades younger than her though, Falkenberg hasn’t let small matters like winning and losing get in the way of her passion for the game.

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But as the grand old lady of tennis, she had some words of wisdom for the youngsters coming into this uber competitive global sport.

“The youngsters today are so much stronger, more fit, and have greater variety in their game. Players did not start playing at age 5 as they do now,” she had said.

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“And the depth of excellent players is so much more. There is money and notoriety in the game now so coaching plays a greater part. Though, young players need to go a bit slower in their development, and at their own pace.

“Get a good education while playing, don’t make tennis their only world. It is too easy to get burned out or injured.”

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