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Mudeford Wood Tennis Club Bernard Copping still smashing it at 88

MUDEFORD'S 88-year-old Bernard Copping shows no signs of slowing down after taking his opponents to a tie-breaker in an LTA tennis league mixed doubles match.

Bernard – who moved to the area in 1981 – has played tennis for 72 years and competed for Mudeford Wood Tennis Club, where he has been a member for 28 years.

While competing against much younger opponents from Corfe Mullen, he paired with Ali Weeks, a comparative youth in her 50s.

Bernard at Mudeford Wood Tennis Club
Bernard at Mudeford Wood Tennis Club

Bernard, who has led an active lifestyle and ran for the medical corps while completing his military service, is the oldest player to represent the club and may be the most senior to compete in the LTA league.

The octogenarian, who has three children and eight grandchildren, told the A&T: “Most of the players I play against are 20 years younger, but I know one player about 10 years younger than me.

“If I could say one thing to encourage someone to stay active, it would be not to give up.

Bernard in Barbados in 2009
Bernard in Barbados in 2009

“People stop because they think they get too old to play, but you’re never too old.

“I remember saying to someone when I was in my 50s that I might not have many years left playing, but here I am, 38 years later.”

Bernard said he has no plans to stop just yet, adding that the LTA summer league fixtures have just been released and will decide soon when to play next.

Bernard playing in the street during lockdown
Bernard playing in the street during lockdown

He played in the Dorset County 80-age category team when he was already in his 80s. However, he has an upcoming county trial where he will try out for a new team formed for players older than 80, in which he hopes “to be more competitive”.

He added: “My family loves that I’m still playing, and they make plenty of cheeky remarks. I often take my racket to America when I travel to see family, and I recently played with my 17-year-old grandson Miles, who said I gave him a right run around.

“I also recently went to Portugal, where I found the local tennis club and played against folks who couldn’t speak a word of English, but we had a lovely time.

“They couldn’t believe how I was getting around the court.”

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