On July 7, Kharkiv resident, 97-year-old tennis player Leonid Stanislavsky, made it to the Guinness World Records. He was recognized as the world’s oldest tennis player. The award ceremony was held at Unicourt tennis courts.
Experts of the National Register of Records of Ukraine have been negotiating with representatives of the Guinness Book of Records for two years, and they even developed special rules for the Kharkivite.
Twists and turns on the way to record
“I can write novels about my dealings with the Guinness World Records. These two years were hard for Mr. Stanislavsky, the tennis federation and the GWR,” recalls Vitalii Zorin, the expert of the National Register of Records of Ukraine. “No one in the world plays competitive tennis at that age. There are formal categories 80+, 90+ and 100+, but he was the only player there. It was almost impossible to find a worthy adversary for Leonid Stanislavsky in his age group. So, in the previous competition, an 87-year-old ‘girl’ played with him. It wasn’t easy to convince the representatives from the Guinness Book of Records he plays with those 10, 20, 30 years younger than himself. In addition, there had to be at least five competitions in the 80+ and 90+ categories. And the last three, according to the GWR’s rules, had to be held with an interval of less than one month. Everything was recorded, translated, apostilled at the British Embassy and sent to London. This went on for quite a long time. We managed to await it. The most important thing is that the record holder received not only three lines on the Guinness website but also a photo and three paragraphs of information. I do hope that Leonid will repeat his own achievement for the Guinness World Records in the 100+ category,” adds Zorin.
Practicing rain or shine
Leonid Stanislavsky has been playing tennis for more than 60 years. Over the past five years, he has been coached by Anatolii Dariy.
“I think that to make it to that age is already a record. Just walking at that age is also a record not to mention playing tennis,” says Anatolii Dariy, the sparring partner and personal coach of Leonid Stanislavsky.
“I’m always with him at the competitions, in particular, at the veterans’ tournament in Bucha, the Kyiv region, which took place at the end of May,” tells Dariy.
“Leonid practices for an hour three times a week. The record holder’s credo is to play, play and play. Training days for Stanislavsky are sacred as he trains rain or shine,” says the coach.
Leonid Stanislavsky: “I love life”
“I neither expected nor believed to get such a high rank. But to break the Guinness World Record wasn’t my goal. I just played and had fun. As a result, it turned out: wherever I played, I am the oldest tennis player. For example, when I was 91, I played in Croatia. My partner was 65,” recalls Stanislavsky.
The record holder reveals a secret of his active longevity.
“I love life, and life is tennis for me. A normal life, normal food, do not quarrel with anyone, including neighbors. But the main thing is doing sports, morning exercises,” says the tennis player. His ultimate dream is to live to 100.
“I’m 97 years old and my life isn’t easy. Ninety is one thing, 95 is another, and 97 is completely different. However, I fight for every day. I was promised if I live to a hundred, I will go to the open tennis tournament in the USA. Besides, I still hope to go to Switzerland and play with Roger Federer. Now I am preparing for the World Championships which will be held in Spain this year,” tells Stanislavsky.
In addition, the oldest tennis player in the world is ready for extreme. He dreams of hill skiing in Bukovel and skydiving.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: izvestia.kharkov.ua, vecherniy.kharkov.ua, superiorresort.com