Uploaded: Friday, August 14, 2009, 3:10 PM
2009 Senior Games: Longtime partners take gold in tennis
Virginia team cruises to victory in women's 70-75 age group
|After four grueling matches in the Palo Alto heat Thursday, Anita Murchie, 76, of Alexandria, Va., and Sylvia Will, 71, of Fairfax, Va., secured the gold medal in the women's 70-75 tennis doubles. The duo has played together for the past five years, and while this is Murchie's third Senior Games and Will's second, they have never advanced this far in the past.
After the semifinals, Will said, "Well, it would feel great, goodness yes," if they won the gold. Walking off the court after the finals, Murchie and Will said they were astounded that they actually accomplished their goal, even though they clearly shut out the competition.
"They were very good, excellent, the best we've played," said finals opponent Maxine Brown, 74, of Pine Mountain Club, Calif.
"They were just better; they outplayed us," said Brown's partner, Mannie Adams, 72, of Fallbrook, Calif.
Murchie and Will won the first set 6-3 and came back even stronger in the second set, winning 6-1. Adams and Brown had to settle for silver, an accomplishment nonetheless.
In the finals, Murchie and Will's play peaked right at the time, when Adams and Brown began losing steam. In the seventh game of the first set, Murchie and Will did not allow their opponents to score a single point. In the final game of the second set, a seemingly endless volley concluded when the ball just topped the net and landed on Adams and Brown's side of the court.
Asked how they won, Murchies said,"Our angles, drop shots and lobs, and lots of running."
"That's our game," Will added.
Both women have plenty of experience practicing these skills, since they have played tennis almost their entire lives. Murchie has played for 60 years and Will for 54. While Will also plays singles, she finds her groove playing doubles with Murchie.
"As we play, we kind of talk to each other so we're changing at the right times," Murchie said.
"We know each other's games," Will added.
According to their opponents in the semifinals, Murchie and Will also have a whole game of their own, something other players have trouble adjusting to.
"We wish we could have caught on earlier," semifinals opponent Jane Huff, 70, of Cranbury, N.J., said.
"They have a lot of tricks," Huff's partner Edith Crum, 70, of Spring Lake Heights, N.J., said.
Crum and Huff are both fairly new to the Senior Games and have not played together long, a possible disadvantage compared to Murchie and Will.
"The more you play together, the more you get to know them (your partner)," Huff said.
While Crum and Huff almost came back in the second set of the semifinals, Murchie and Will still had the edge. Crum and Huff will play later for the bronze, which is "almost as good as the gold," Crum said.
In addition to excellent playing skills, Murchie and Will have a strong mental outlook on the game, something that the players pull from their overall perspective on life.
"You don't look backward," Murchie said, referring to her thoughts during the game.
"If you make a mistake, you forget the mistake and concentrate on the ball before you," Will added. "It's like what life's about."
■ VIDEO: Up close and personal - Interviews with Senior Games athletes
■ VIDEO Celebration of Athletes features Steve Young, Jennifer Azzi
■ Senior Games Daily (Aug. 14, 2009) (PDF)
■ Senior Games Daily (Aug. 13, 2009) (PDF)
■ 2009 SUMMER NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES ARCHIVE
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Posted by Theresa Carey, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm
Pam is on my volleyball team (the Arch Rivals) and is an amazing athlete as well as a terrific teammate. One of the things I love about competing at this level is the opportunity to meet and hang out with people like Pam and her husband, Rob.
Shout out to the Arch Rivals! Show me!!
Posted by Laura Wuest, a resident of another community, on Aug 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Thank you for writing such a complimentary article about my friends, Anita Murchie and Sylvia Will, winning the gold yesterday in tennis doubles 70-74 age category. Of course I'm bias, having been a friend of Anita's for about 40 years. But I was so inspired by their
sportsmanship, their strong perseverance, and their humbleness. It's an honor to know those two champs, who are already looking forward to Houston. They are really special women and athletes.