Tennis anyone?

Published 6:48 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

‘My wife and I were both playing tennis at the time and when they built the clay courts here, we can both play on them, so we moved back….And I still have my own hips and knees.’


Age can’t keep Morris Denton off the court

Morris Denton has played tennis most of his almost-90s years of life and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

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The Oxford native not only plays at Goose Creek Tennis Club for sport, fun and exercise, but he still plays in the occasional tournament.

Denton recently competed in the Level 2 National Championships Super Senior Grand Prix, the 2024 Raymond James West Coast SSGP in St. Petersburg, Fla.,  where he defeated the No. 1 ranked 90s player in the world, George McCabe, ironically from Oxford, Ohio.

Denton, who turns 90 in a few months, played in high school at the former University High School in Oxford. After he graduated in the 1950s, he attended Lipscomb University for his freshman year to “get out of Oxford for a bit.”

His friends convinced him to come home after his freshman year, and he attended Ole Miss for his sophomore year.

But then, Uncle Sam also had plans to take Denton out of Oxford, and Denton was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he continued to play tennis when he could.

He returned to Oxford and Ole Miss in 1957 and was on Ole Miss’s 1957-58 tennis team.

He went on marry and have two daughters (and now, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren) and life made it harder for him to return to the courts.

“In the 1990s, I picked it back up again,” Denton said. “And I’ve been playing pretty steadily since.”

He and his wife, Carolyn, moved to North Carolina in 2000, where he continued to play at the country club where he lived.

They returned to Oxford several years ago to be closer to family members who still lived in the area. He said their decision to move back to Oxford was also solidified when they learned that Goose Creek built its tennis courts with clay, rather than the usual hard courts made from concrete or asphalt.

Denton said he and his wife were both finding it difficult to continue to play on hard courts, which can be debilitating for knees and hips.

“My wife and I were both playing tennis at the time and when they built the clay courts here, we can both play on them, so we moved back,” he said. “And I still have my own hips and knees.”

Denton still looks like a tennis player with a slender, athletic build. He walks out to the courts quickly and determined. He said he keeps in shape by playing tennis at least three times a week at Goose Creek and working out at home.

“I have a gym there where I work out every day that I’m not playing tennis,” he said.

His tournament days have slowed, mostly due to the amount of traveling involved. However; sometimes the tennis balls all line up.

“I was going to Florida to visit with my daughter and her husband and while I was there, I read about the Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, so I decided to attend,” he said.

Denton and McCabe went to a third-set tiebreaker and Denton won the final set 10-6, clinching the national title in his age category.

At Goose Creek, Denton said he’s happy to play with other club members, some of whom have become his best friends.

“We spend a lot of time together on the courts,” he said. “They’re all younger than I am, but they’re all good enough to put up with me, and they can verify I can still hold my own.”

Denton said he can be found tending to his garden at his Woodland Hill home when not playing tennis.