The oldest tennis player not only in Europe but in the world, 94-year-old Kharkivite Leonid Stanislavsky, is a steadfast participant of European and world tournaments for veterans. As he confesses, this was made possible thanks to the material and moral support of his sponsor Yurii Sapronov. But so much depends on Leonid’s efforts to keep fit as matches are quite long and playing standards are demanding in the championships he regularly takes part in. Presently, after successful participation in European Senior Championships, the Kharkivite is working hard to prepare for the world tournament.
Kharkiv Observer correspondent met Stanislavsky at Unicourt tennis club where he practiced with his sparring partner Anatoly Dariy. After training, Leonid kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
Question: When and where did this year’s European Senior Championships take place?
Leonid Stanislavsky: It was held in Antalya, Turkey, at Aii Bey Manavgat club on June 11-16.
Q: How many people were in the Ukrainian team and what are their age categories?
LS: This was an individual championship that’s why the teams from different countries were not present. Only Dmytro Krylov and I took part in it from Ukraine.
Q: Which age category did you play in?
LS: I had to compete in the 80+ age category, as there were not participants in my age category of 90+. What is more, there were no other players older than 85.
Q: Who did you play in the singles? How did the game go? How long did the match last and what was the set score and final result?
LS: I played with Swede Raul Roulson and German Klein Klaus-Juergen (on the photo below). The game lasted more than 2 hours and went off in harsh conditions: temperature was scorching, 34 degrees Celsius and it was very humid. I lost 2-6, 1-6 in each.
Q: Did you play in men’s doubles and mixed doubles?
LS: Yes, I did. I played in both.
Q: Who played with you in mixed doubles and what was the game result?
LS: Partners were found for me, namely Boris Chirkov from Russia (on the photo below) and Kristin Horn from Norway. We played two games in men’s doubles and two games in mixed doubles. In a hard-fought struggle, we achieved third place.
Q: What court surface did you play on?
LS: I played on clay courts. They are excellent quality with good drainage and don’t dust up when it’s windy. The ball bounce is the same as on hard courts.
Q: Were you given a warm welcome?
LS: Oh, yes! I received lots of attention from officials, mass media and all present tennis players. The day after opening the championship, the official leaflet that told about me, was issued. At a gala dinner, I got a standing ovation and was awarded a genuine Wimbledon towel. Tournament director Sergej Blumenstein from Germany and ITF representative Nadja Koran gave me lots of attention.
Q: What accommodations were you provided to live in during the tournament?
LS: I lived in the five star Alibey hotel with all-inclusive facilities and only 5 minutes from the courts. If necessary, I was given a lift by autocar. I was impressed by the service provided, which included a delicious and diversified diet and a well-appointed adjacent area.
Everything was just marvelous! I enjoyed swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and in various swimming pools.
Q: Who helped you during the championship?
LS: I was assisted by Dmytro Krylov, Head of the Tennis Federation of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region, who also took part in the competitions.
Q: The European championship is over. What are your plans for the nearest future?
LS: On September 16-29, the 38th Super-Seniors World Championships 2018 will take place in Umag, Croatia. There will be a group tournament, where participants from about 30 countries take part in. Unfortunately, I won’t play there as there are not any partners for me at my age in Ukraine. I will participate in the individual tournament on September 22-29. I am going to play mixed doubles with 85-year-old Halyna Horyanaya and doubles with Yurii Hrinevich.
Currently, I regularly practice in Kharkiv. From August 21 to September 10, I will rest for free in “Peremoha” sanatorium in Kyiv where I was invited as a WWII veteran. Together with Halyna Horyanaya and Yurii Hrinevich, we’ll have active rest there. Ukrainian Tennis Federation agreed with Nauka Kyiv club to give us the opportunity to practice on the club’s courts a few times a week. I believe that our training will help us keep fit and prepare for the future World Championships.
Q: What are your plans for next year?
LS: Next year, I’m planning to participate in the European Championships in Amsterdam and in the World Championships in Croatia. But this requires being in good health.
Q: What would you wish for our readers?
LS: The most important thing is to love and cherish life, keep active and have a healthy lifestyle as not to be ill. You should not be involved in any arguments, try to be friendly and calm in your old age. If possible, help those in need. It isn’t easy but everyone should aspire to it.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: Leonid Stanislavky