One of the best tennis players ever produced by the Cayman Islands still has some juice in the tank. David Berry, now in his 40s, played well enough in 2006 to crack the top 200 in the International Tennis Federation’s over-40 world rankings.
A roundup of Berry’s wild ride in 2006: He lost in the quarterfinals at Eastbourne, England but managed to beat the finalist from 2005 in the round of 16 (6/4,6/4). Berry lost to the eventual finalist, however, lost 6/1,6/1.
In doubles he lost in the quarters in three sets.
‘The grass was tough, fast and slick with rain delays,’ said Berry, ‘but the crowd and competition were inspirational.’
Berry then went to Keszthely, Hungary where he was beaten on clay in straight sets 6/2 6/0 in the 2nd round. ‘I felt weak and not myself,’ he said. ‘I realized I had neglected weights for two weeks and my strength had dissipated considerably. I went to the gym religiously for next four days and managed to win some doubles matches.’
He made it to the semis and won in three sets one morning and then won the final in three sets on the same day.
‘Overall, it is a demanding and sometimes exhausting experience to travel and compete,’ said Berry. ‘You have doubts. You have nerves but it helps to remember that you have trained for a goal and that your opponents are human too with the same feelings. So you go to battle and give it what you have on the day. Sometimes you surprise yourself, sometimes your gut wrenches with a loss. But you pick up and keep on keeping on.
‘What I find amazing is watching some matches and seeing these men and women in the seniors, some are over 80, playing to their age group, not running as quick as they used to but still at it. It shows you that one should never let age be a factor. It’s really another excuse, feeding on the voices in our head. These doubts we have to reframe and reframe until we ignore those doubts and plow on. Lastly, I must say that the best lesson that I’ve learned is how to play without pain, ligaments, muscles and back etc. This is the toughest part of the exercise. It is almost a daily regimen of gym exercises and vitamins to keep the body’s pain away. We weren’t made to ‘sit down at a chair’ and this really affects the way we move. We seem to practice being sedentary and then wonder why it hurts us when we do move.’