Dean Chickering — Just some more bling
Dean Chickering walked home with the gold medal in men’s doubles 80–84. For almost all of us that would be the pinnacle. For Dean it was just some more bling. It was not his first gold medal or his second gold medal or…Dean has nine gold medals. Along with his partner John Shultz, Dean has dominated the Florida Senior Games for a decade. And earlier this year he also won the bronze medal at the National Senior Games.
Gordon Weinblatt, Cornel West — Going for the three-peat
Gordon and Cornel entered the senior games with one thought, three-peat. They already won two consecutive gold medals and this year they hoped, no expected to make it three in a row. They advanced to the gold medal match to face Winston Dowridge and Eric Penny both highly rated players, 2037 and 1853 respectively. If you are not familiar with the ratings 1400 is very, very good, 2000 is INSANELY good. But Gordon and Cornel were not about to be intimidated by mere numbers. They fought a very hard match but ultimately fell a little short losing 3 games to 1.
Deb Curtis — Just playing
I recently participated in my eighth State Senior Games. I have to say it was as exciting as the very first time. Through the years I've gotten to know some of the folks involved, other players and tournament organizers, and it adds an even deeper side to the games that I thoroughly enjoy. I do miss so many of the people who no longer play, but I hope that the future will bring in some new faces who can share the great opportunity that these games provide.
[Editor's Note: Deb makes it sound like she was just playing at the games. She wasn’t just playing, she was winning, gold medal in singles, gold medal in doubles, silver medal in mixed doubles.]
Stu Lesser — Still playing
I've played in every state senior games competition for the last 11 years (except 1 year when we went on a cruise). I've collected some medals, however, in addition to the competition I enjoy touching base with old friends and competitors. I used to play in USATT sanctioned tournaments and made a lot of friends over the years. Now that I've reduced my competitions, it's great to see old friends and renew acquaintances. It doesn't matter what age group you are in, or how good you think you are. There are great players in all age groups and if you are lucky enough to earn a medal, you've probably earned it. The competition keeps me feeling young.
John Borjeson — A loser’s perspective
In my age group, 65–69, I am not the best player here in the Villages, I am not the second best player in the Villages, I am the not the third best player in the Villages, I am not … well you get the idea. So I didn’t expect too much. And I lost. I don’t mean that I didn’t win the gold medal. I mean I didn’t win a single match, just a few isolated games spread over the singles and doubles competitions. I didn’t play my best but ultimately it didn’t make a difference. If my game was razor sharp I still would have lost. I am just not good enough. Looking around the room I was very impressed with the quality of play in all the age divisions. These men and women are good, very, very good. Was entering the games a mistake? No. The experience was worth it. Playing against better players can only help my game. Next year winners in the Florida Senior Games advance into the National Senior Games. That means that just advancing past the local qualifying here in the Villages will be a challenge. I need to work a lot harder.