ENGLEWOOD — Englewood resident Dick Collier celebrated his 90th birthday the only way he could — being at the top of his tennis game.
Collier won the gold medal for tennis in the 90-94 age group at the 2013 National Senior Games held in Cleveland July 19-Aug. 1.
“I’ve qualified to be Florida’s representative in every nationals since 1999, when I won my first gold medal,” he said.
Collier has been playing for 80 years and turned 90 in July. He was even ranked 11th by the United States Tennis Association in 2001 for his age group.
“I won a lot at the amateur level,” Collier said. “Just in the past five years, I’ve probably won 10 medals.”
Collier plays singles and doubles. His local doubles partner is Bob Klein, with whom he’s played for three years.
“Bob and I won state championships,” he said. “When we entered in doubles play in this state, the competition tends to be scarce. We often find ourselves the only doubles entry within our category.”
Collier said singles tends to be more competitive.
“I’m hitting the ball well,” he said “I just don’t move very well. When I thought of stopping, a friend told me to just see what the competition is like before you make a decision.”
“I saw others my age and they were similar to me,” he said. “They can hit, but not move very well. In some cases, it’s worse.”
Collier was among 11 entries at the National Senior Games, winning all three of his matches.
“The secret to my success is to learn the strategy to the game,” he said. “First serve in, return the serve.”
His training regiment consists of pool exercises and strength training with weights.
Collier’s next tennis venture takes him to St. George, Utah, for an event in October.
“I have an excellent doubles partner in John Morgan who lives in Salt Lake City,” he said. “He’s president of the World Senior Games.”
Collier plays at the Englewood Tennis Club three times a week, where he’s been a member for 25 years.
“When it comes to life, I have a stock of bad habits,” he said. “I didn’t know what to give up so I kept them all.”