By Lara Friedman
At 79, Sylvia Bennetts plays tennis like a demon – a feat made all the more impressive given she is legally blind.
There’s the odd swing and miss but Sylvia hits most deliveries that come her way and says her skills are a mix of intuition and determination.
Sylvia’s poor eyesight, a trait she inherited from her father, has gradually degenerated over the course of her life.
She fondly remembers drinking carrot juice with her dad in the hope it improved their vision.
Impaired sight has never deterred her from sporting pursuits.
“Running was what I was best known for when I was younger. I always had to stay at the front of the pack, because I didn’t want to push anyone over trying to get ahead when I couldn’t see,” Sylvia says.
She credits a background in athletics for her success on the tennis court.
“I’m not the best player by any means. But I’m fast, I can run the balls down until everyone else gives up,” she says.
Sylvia’s daughter Sandy says her mum was always competitive.
“When I was younger, I used to play against Mum. I was better than her, but she refused to stop until she’d won,” Sandy says.
The resulting games would last for hours, Sandy recalls.
Sylvia plays at the Rangeview Tennis Courts in High Wycombe every Wednesday. Club rules state that Sylvia never has to leave the court, even if odd numbers mean other people might need to sit out.
The rule suits Sylvia just fine. “I’d play five days a week if I could,” she adds.