Most people his age aren’t thinking about a game of tennis.
But 85-year-old Lester Cowell is an athletic anomaly.
Cowell is not only thinking about a friendly game of tennis, he’s qualified for the National Senior Olympics after earning a bronze medal Monday at the Tennessee Senior Olympics in Franklin.
“I was never good at golf so I started playing tennis,” said Cowell. “I thought I played pretty good on Monday. I enjoyed it. I ended up losing to a guy who I’ve played about 10 times and he seems to beat me every time. But I’m not really a singles player. I much prefer doubles. In singles, sometimes I zig when I should zag. The problem is I can’t find a doubles partner anymore. There aren’t many people my age still playing tennis.”
By virtue of his bronze medal, Cowell has qualified for the National Senior Olympics to be held in May 2022 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“I’ll have to decide if I’m going or not,” said Cowell. “I guess it will depend on how I feel in April. I hope I’m still here.”
Cowell is a proud member of the Breakfast Club, a group of guys who meet most mornings at McDonald’s for coffee and conversation. He said he often gets good-natured jabs during breakfast about the quality of his tennis opponents.
“They kid me that I just beat an old lady in a wheelchair,” said Cowell, who has travelled hundreds of miles to compete in a national tennis tournament before. “In 2005, I played in a grass national tournament in New Jersey that was 842 miles away.”
As for his more immediate plans, Cowell is already registered to play in the Dr Pepper Tennis Tournament at Milner Recreation Center. That tournament is set for Aug. 5-7. Lester says he will partner with son Jed Cowell in doubles competition.