A pair of ‘ace’ twins who have dedicated seven decades of their lives to playing tennis are determined to carry on – as they celebrate their 80TH birthday.
Sprightly Donie Donnelly and Barbara Mason admit they’re not as fast as they once were but that doesn’t stop them playing every week.
And the birthday girls don’t have any plans to hang up their rackets yet and instead have declared they’re aiming for 90 next.
Barbara, who is 35 minutes older than her sister Donie, admitted they have both had spells of being out of the game.
Barbara said: “We don’t ever consider not playing but we’ve both had little breaks.
“I’ve had two knee replacements and that held me up for a little bit but I’m back again now.”
The ladies were born in 1936 and spent most of their early childhood playing tennis in Meersbrook Park, Sheffield, South Yorks.
Donie said: “We started to play in our local park in the ladies league matches and mixed doubles.
“We played on and off when we got married and had our families and then Barbara came to Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre when it first opened in 1991 and I joined afterwards.
“We’ve been here ever since.”
The twins started playing at 14-years-old after persuading their mum to pay ten shillings – 50 pence in today’s money – for coaching sessions.
Donie said the pair still use some of the skills they learned all those years ago.
She said: “It all started after we had some coaching sessions from a Yorkshire tennis coach.
“We learned a lot back then which we still use today.
“We get some ladies who might not have played much before and we can help them a little bit.”
Barbara said both she and Donie, who now have seven children, 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren between them, really appreciate what their own mum enabled them to do.
She said: “We really appreciate it now because our mum scraped the money together so both of us could go.
“We’ve often said it’s the best ten shillings our mum ever spent.”
The pair have played many memorable games and it was only seven years ago that Barbara was playing tennis five times a week.
Donie even once meet the mother of former Sheffield tennis star Roger Taylor.
Donie said: “It was in the ladies doubles in the Parks league. I played with my partner Sylvia – we were away and I was about 22 or 23 at the time in the late 50s.
“I think her name was Lily and her partner was called Mary. We beat them and they were so shocked because they’d won that title for years.
“We didn’t win the competition but that game sticks in my head.”
The tennis twins are now looking forward to attending the Nottingham Open in June for the start of the sporting season ahead of Wimbledon.