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"Age is just a number": 81-year-old Estero man is World Master's Tennis Champion

Posted at 10:13 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 22:13:28-04

ESTERO, Fla. — Imagine winning the World Masters Tennis Championship. Now imagine winning at 81-years-old. Fred Drilling is one local tennis champ, doing just that.

"My division is the 80 and over," he said.

He and his team played among athletes from 15 other countries.

"We just played in Turkey," Drilling said.

Now, he's back in southwest Florida, keeping up his skills before his next competition. He's no stranger to celebrity tennis players. Your Estero Community Correspondent Dominga Murray asked him who his favorites are.

"I played Billie Jean King, I played Arther Ashe when we played UCLA and I played for Arizona," he said.

Later this April, Drilling will meet another household name on the court.

"I'm playing again in the US Open and in my division, one of the players is Rick Barry, who old people know as an extremely famous basketball player," he said. "He's 6'7'' and I'm 5'7" and a half so he will have an advantage on me," he said.

It's all to have fun and stay in good health," Drilling says.

"They [World Masters] had 12 players — 12 men and 12 women playing the 90 and over and one fellow had his 100th birthday and another fellow was 102, so you can see it adds some years of life," he said.