Court and Ball
Born - 1927 ; Location - Essex, England ; Sport - Tennis
Tennis is not within the usual range of sports we cover, but then nor is moving round the tennis court with the energy that Sydney Isaacs exhibits usual for an 85 year old, either.
Watching him run round the court with his astonishing amount of energy is inspiring, his mobility is equally impressive. And it's not totally by accident, he is aware of the need to make the effort to stay in shape. On taking up tennis he realised that improved fitness would benefit him so he took up jogging. More recently he attended Tai Chi classes for a couple of years. However, he stopped going because he didn't feel elegant enough - hard though that is to believe when you watch him go through the exercise routine that he did retain from the Tai Chi classes. He performs this routine every time he plays tennis, and even on the days when he isn't playing. He says that at his age the more mobility you can build into your physique the better.
Although he only took up tennis at 50 he has always been aware all his life of the positive influence of sport. As a manager of a factory in the textile business during the 1960's, when he found that there was difficulty in recruiting staff due to the excess of jobs over applicants (those were the days!) he used participation in sport as an added incentive to attract people. And when he began organising teams in various sports to take part in competitions he found that it was a real morale booster for his staff.
Enthusiasm has also been a thread running through his life. At the age of 6 or 7 it got him picked to play for his school cricket team despite never having played the game before. In those days, during the 1930's in the East End of London, there were not many cars on the streets, so the streets were where he and his friends would play ball games and he would run after any ball that was moving anywhere near him. This pleasure in running and running got him picked for the team, and his enthusiasm is something that never left him, and which he valued in others. It was a trait that, as an employer, he valued highly in job applicants, and in his tennis it gave him the ability to persevere at improving his game when he did begin playing. Learning anything later in life is harder than doing so as a youngster - not that that is an excuse for not doing it, you just have to accept that progress may be slower and you may have to work harder for the results - so his enthusiasm gave him the ability to stick at it. Over years of playing with the friend who introduced him to the game, he moved from being the player "who never won a point" to the player who watched his opponent "scratching around for a point".
Currently, and for the last 30 something years, he has been playing 3 or more times a week at the Connaught Club in Epping, a club with a fine tradition in tennis, and where many of the Wimbledon champions and competitors would warm up their game on grass before the Wimbledon Championships. The honours board has many of the legendary names of the game such as Virginia Wade, Angela Mortimer, Anne Jones and Christine Truman on the women's side, and on the men's side there are names such as Lew Hoad, Drobny and even Rod Laver.
Not that Syd would put himself in the same category as any of those players. He would however attest to the benefits to his life of the years of tennis that he has played, and the years of tennis to come.