Your Advocate: an editor's blog

What will net you a long, healthy, happy life?

In Your Advocate: an editor's blog

Chris Cobler

By Chris Cobler
Feb. 12, 2012 at 8:13 p.m.

 Durst has some birthday cake after playing a couple sets of tennis. Durst turned 90 on Feb. 8, but the Victoria Tennis Association celebration was Saturday.

Victorian Lee Durst will tell you the answer is tennis.

I had the pleasure of attending a Victoria Tennis Association birthday party Saturday morning for Durst, who just turned 90. Of course, we all celebrated by playing tennis. 

Although a biting wind threw off more than a few serves, nothing stood in the way of the warmth the tennis community feels for Durst, who inspires us all. Despite a hip replacement, a knee replacement and an untold number of injuries, Durst still plays three times a week and competes in tournaments across Texas and the United States.

When I told him he must have any incredibly high threshold for pain, he quipped, "I think my nerves are all dead. 

Every tennis player I know, including this blogger, complains about some ache or pain, but Durst just shrugs it all off and gets back on the court. About six weeks ago while playing in Victoria, he took a tumble going after an opponent's drop shot. The fall broke his right thumb and caused his leg to swell terribly.

He was back on the courts four weeks later. He played in a tennis tournament six weeks later in San Antonio. He won the consolation division of the 80-year-old division, going up against younger players because there are no other 90-year-olds competing in Texas and there weren't enough 85-year-olds to fill that division either. He also played at the United States Tennis Association 3.0 level against players of all ages -- imagine how humbling that experience was for his opponents.

Durst played tennis in high school, winning the district championship, and then walking on to the team at Texas A&M, where he became the No. 5 player. His service in World War II interrupted his collegiate career. (Advocate sports reporter Mike Forman wrote a profile about Durst as an 85-year-old phenom back in 2007.) 

After college, Durst put away his racket until 1982. Thirty years later, he's still got game, playing three times a week and entering tournaments as often as he can. A woman came up Saturday to congratulate him and to tell him her mother also was celebrating her 81st birthday.

Durst volleyed back with the timing and spirit that have thwarted many opponents: "Does she play tennis?"



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