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Super Seniors rate the near-miraculous achievements of tennis players in the 80s and 90s | Movies

Super Seniors rate the near-miraculous achievements of tennis players in the 80s and 90s |  Movies
Super Seniors rate the near-miraculous achievements of tennis players in the 80s and 90s |  Movies

 


TThree wiry octogenarians and one unfeasibly healthy-looking nonagenarian are the focus of this perky documentary about tennis players still holding their own in a late tiebreaker with father time. A mix of ex-pros and hard-nosed late starters who picked up the game in middle age, they all converge at the International Tennis Federation's senior world championships in Croatia; a tournament with more matches than Wimbledon. As series winner King van Nostrand, a former math teacher who was 85 at the time of filming, notes, small age margins count; at some point a younger player with inferior ability will statistically start to beat his older players.

Van Nostrand, a stooped Floridian with a grittier grin, has dominated the senior circuit by winning a record 43 titles and still hasn't tired of winning. His doubles partner is 87-year-old John Powless, a varsity league and professional player whose beautiful stroke and attaboy magnanimity are intact but whose energy is sapped by chemotherapy. Etty Marouani refuses to acknowledge her age (82) and is a coquettish former Parisian model who started playing tennis at the age of 42. Her girlish hair ribbon belies a killer determination to add the world title to those of her French seniors. Most notable is 95-year-old Ukrainian Leonid Stanislavskyi, an amateur who took up a racket to keep his body and mind moving. Overall, he has resigned himself to being mistreated by his juniors, with only two other non-peers available. Even if I lose, I will come third, he says.

It is nothing short of miraculous to see them running around the court, many of them with an unquenchable will to win. While the aptly named Dan Lobbs film sometimes dips into “never give up” platitudes, especially when padding competition sequences, it delivers plenty of life lessons. Clearly, positivity has allowed most of these faithful people to keep riding despite adversity: not just Powless' cancer (he died in 2021), but also the premature loss of children and grandchildren in Van Nostrand's case , and because Stanislavskyi is the last man in his social circle.

The podium conquerors of the peloton are of course impressive, but it is Stanislavskyi who lingers most in the memory. He constantly loses his matches, lives from the social interaction during these tournaments and walks around with his racket from his backpack. He is both a lonely figure and a powerful symbolism. In other words: a real sportsman.

Super Seniors will be available to watch on digital platforms in the UK from 17 June

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/film/article/2024/jun/18/super-seniors-review-the-near-miraculous-feats-of-tennis-players-in-their-80s-and-90s

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