Senior is still a nation tennis champ |

Senior is still a nation tennis champ

After retirement, there is an assumption that people spend their days leisurely playing golf, tennis, and shuffleboard. But the way Lucy Dettmer plays tennis is anything but leisurely.

At the age of 86, she is still winning national tennis championships and beating Regis Philbin on television to boot. Last year, she earned first place in two tournaments in Kansas, in singles and doubles. It was her 16th national championship win.

She is hoping to carry on her legacy at Nationals this year in Houston, where she will play on hard and clay courts.

Dettmer’s enthusiasm for tennis goes far beyond tournament competition. Eleven years ago, at age 74, she was recruited to play varsity tennis at the College of the Desert near Palm Springs, Calif.

"I already had my degree, but I had to take 12 credits to play on the team so I went back to school and joined the team," she said.

Word quickly got out of this epic event and she was invited to play against Regis Philbin, live, in front of millions of viewers. So, in October, Dettmer and her husband, Phil, flew to New York where Dettmer exclaims, "a limo picked us up from the airport and they had us stay in a room overlooking Central Park. They really gave us the royal treatment."

Of course, she won, just as she had 10 years earlier.

Playing competitive tennis isn’t all the Dettmers, who are the same age, do for excitement. At age 62 they rode bicycles across the country, a feat most people can only dream of.

"Other people had done it, so why not us," said Dettmer. They rode 60 miles a day, spending each night in a tent and sleeping bags. Amazingly, they made it from coast to coast in only 41 days.

The move from California to Park City two years ago has been everything the Dettmer’s hoped for. Their active lifestyles fit perfectly in a town filled with Olympians and other elite athletes.

Despite her athletic accomplishments, Dettmer still considers raising her three great kids her proudest acheivement. "One’s an attorney, one’s an architect, and we live with our daughter who has made it big with a loan and mortgage company," she added.

Dettmer is preparing for her next big tennis match and she is ready for any other adventure that may come her way.

"If anything sounds good, I’ll do it," said Dettmer.

And she might as well, while she’s still young.

If you know of any stellar seniors in our community who deserve recognition please email Sarah Moffitt at

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