Ontario Tennis

Ontario Tennis 2017/2018 | Summer 2017

Tennis, Ontario

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MUFFIE GRIEVE If Muffie Grieve had completed her original plan when she left her home country of England back in 1959, her recent victory at the ITF Super Seniors World Individual Championships may have been under the Australian flag. Deciding she needed a new adventure at the age of 26, Grieve wanted to move to sunny Australia. She was to make her way through Canada and the United States, earning money, before crossing the Pacific Ocean. Instead, a year after she first arrived in what was supposed to be a pit stop, Grieve met her future husband. Her journey came to a halt in Toronto, and Canada's largest city became her new home. "I am so happy that I'm a Canadian," she said, exhibiting no regrets of a lost life Down Under. "My children are Canadian. They love Canada, and they travel a lot too, and we all thank our lucky stars that we ended up in Canada because it's an amazing country to be in, isn't it? Maybe you don't realize it if you're Canadian-born but if you come from somewhere else you appreciate it more." Though she still loves visiting Australia, Grieve has enthusiastically and successfully been representing Canada on the international stage for years. She captured her first singles world championship last month in Croatia, defeating fellow Canadian Rosemarie Asch in the over-80 final. "I've been close before, twice when I was in the 75s I got to the final, so I had silver medals but not the gold," she said. "So this time I was pretty determined. I wanted to get a gold medal. And I felt confident that if I played well, I could win. So I was pretty happy, I mean that's what I wanted to do. It's sort of a culmination I suppose of a long twisty span of time that I've played tennis." The 80-year-old has overcome a lot of adversity en route to this incredible accomplishment, battling back from a brain tumour in 1994 – the same year her husband passed away – and a surgery to remove a cancerous kidney just last year. Throughout it all though, she has remained firmly upbeat. A fighting spirit and help from friends have also gotten her through. Inge Weber, who won her own maiden singles world championship this year in the over-75 age category, walked with her every day after her brain surgery, pushing Grieve to go further each time. Following her kidney operation last year, walking was again a key element in her recovery. "You're not allowed to do anything – do not play tennis, they said, do not play golf, you may not do any of these things," she said of the instructions her doctor gave her. "And I'm thinking, well maybe I could hit some golf balls or something! But the only thing you could really do was walk, so I walked. I walked every day and was eventually walking miles, and it was good because it motivates you, and fortunately I guess, being a competitor you have that competitive edge so you are motivated really to get better and get yourself back." It seems Grieve has always possessed a confident attitude, never afraid to go for what she wants. A born leader, she earned a living by teaching computer skills mostly to men, and she has regularly acted as captain of her world championship teams throughout the years. She also has the distinction of becoming the first woman to be president of the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, the private club she has been a member of since she landed in Toronto over half a century ago. For years, the Toronto Lawn was run solely by men, until Grieve and a few other women at the club demanded their voices be heard. "My husband was actually on the Board when we, as women, said why don't we have a vote?" Grieve said. "We didn't have a vote; it was always the man who had a vote. So we said, we're members and we should have a say. We had a little battle, eventually it went to a vote, and I think it was pretty close – I often wonder how my husband voted! – but it was passed." Shortly thereafter, Grieve was asked to be the first female member of the Board. And just a few years later, she was president, a position she maintained from 1978-1979. Grieve also had to work hard at obtaining her position on Canada's international seniors teams. Given that she has been one of the country's top seniors competitors for quite some time, it's remarkable that for upwards of 30 years, she really only played doubles. "In England, everything was doubles," said Grieve, who was first introduced to tennis at the age of 10 as part of the school curriculum. "I played doubles in school, I played doubles in university. I played the odd game of singles but never took it seriously. And I love it now." It was actually in doubles that she won her first world championship, back in 2010 in the over-75 age group with American Mary Boswell. With the addition of her singles gold medal this year, Grieve says she would next like to capture a team medal. Playing down an age category in Croatia so she could play one last time with long-time teammates and friends, 76-year-old Weber and 75-year-old Evelyn Hustwit, her team competed strongly to finish fourth. Next year, she would be set to play on the two-time defending champion over-80 squad. Today, the mother of three and grandmother to eight lives north of the city in Thornbury alongside her new husband, and she regularly visits Toronto to see her family and play at the Lawn. Having been involved with tennis for most of her life, the sport has provided Grieve with so many great experiences, and it will always be a part of her and her family's future. "The people you meet when you're playing internationally for Canada, it has opened up a whole new world because these are people you never would have met otherwise, and what amazing people they are," she said, while wearing a red-and-white bracelet sent to her by fellow 2010 doubles champion Boswell, who was unable to attend the world championships this year. "I mean, they're all like we are, they're all amateurs but they've all played a long time and they all have families and grandchildren. So we all have a lot in common and they become friends. I mean I've been to Spain and Australia and South Africa to visit people, and they've come to stay with me. "And tennis also is an amazing sport because you keep yourself fit just by playing. If you go out and play singles for an hour, I mean that's enough, you don't have to go to a gym. So not only has it given me all these wonderful experiences internationally, and helped me to meet new people and friends and so on but it's also such an amazing exercise. I mean to play with my children, and bring them up playing tennis and to play with my grandchildren, how beautiful is that." FEATURE "TENNIS IS AN AMAZING SPORT BECAUSE YOU KEEP YOURSELF FIT JUST BY PLAYING. IF YOU GO OUT AND PLAY SINGLES FOR AN HOUR, I MEAN THAT'S ENOUGH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO TO A GYM." MUFFIE THE 80-YEAR-OLD HAS OVERCOME A LOT OF ADVERSITY EN ROUTE TO THIS INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENT, BATTLING BACK FROM A BRAIN TUMOUR IN 1994. 16 SUMMER 2017 | TENNISONTARIO.com Ray Giubilo

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