Jess Torres knows how important conditioning is for the competitive senior tennis player.
A former 30-year teaching pro and tennis shop owner, Torres, 69, of Alta Loma has had some self-admitted up and down results over the past few years on the senior tennis circuit. But he knows he has no one to blame but himself.
Torres, who plays on the national level in the 65s and is currently ranked No. 2 in the SCTA Section with doubles partner Dennis Bowers, said he found he wasn’t enjoying tennis as much when he wasn’t as physically fit as he could be. “I don’t mind losing if the other guy beats me and they’re playing better,” he said. “But if I’m playing you and I’ve beaten you many times before and you beat me pretty easily, then that’s not fun. I’m working to improve my fitness. In senior tennis, the better shape you are in, the better your tennis is.”
He added: “When I was in the 35s I used to think the 50s were old. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen the importance of being in shape. The top players are all in great shape. As you get older you just have to work at it a little bit more.”
Torres is currently the SCTA captain of the Senior Men’s North/South Challenge Team. In October the SCTA team will travel to Fresno for a two-day event to meet best NorCal players in age divisions 65 through 90.
Torres was introduced to tennis by a friend in high school and began playing on the public courts. “I picked it up one day, and I’ve never stopped,” he said.
One day Torres was practicing his serve with just two balls, when a player on another court noticed him. “He gave me his entire bag of balls,” Torres recalled. “So a week later I see him again and I’m hitting serves with the bag of balls, and he gives me a racquet. He invited me to play with his friends and he started working with me.”
Torres is excited about the prospect of competing in the 70s, and will play one of his final 65 tournaments in September in the Pacific Southwest Tournament.
At the National Hardcourts played at the Racquet Club of Irvine the last week in June, Torres advanced to the second round before having to pull out because of a family medical emergency.
His 44-year-old daughter Maria Elena Torres was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a nearly five-hour surgery at the time of the tournament. “It’s in the early stages and so the doctors have said everything looks good and she is on the mend,” Torres said. “She is such a brave trooper and had a bilateral mastectomy and we are waiting now for pathology to see if anything went into lymph nodes. So we are just kind of holding our breath about that.
“With everything she was going through… It’s just been a really tough patch. They’ll be plenty of tournaments later for me.”
Torres has a court at his home and stays busy playing with his grandkids. He has also competed in National Husband and Wife events.