TROPHY TIME: Grafton’s 81-year-old squash legend Aileen Smith finished runner-up in the 80-84 age group at the Australian Masters Squash Championships in Canberra. PHOTO: Adam Hourigan
TROPHY TIME: Grafton’s 81-year-old squash legend Aileen Smith finished runner-up in the 80-84 age group at the Australian Masters Squash Championships in Canberra. PHOTO: Adam Hourigan

Playing strong at 81

YOU have never seen a trophy like this before, Aileen Smith says as we sit down for a chat.

"I can't say I've gotten one of these before," the evergreen 81-year-old said.

Smith pulls her trophy from a folded plastic bag only to reveal it is not an actual trophy: it is a number plate.

"It says on the back we can't use them on motor vehicles, which is a bit of a bummer," Smith says.

Her trophy (number plate) was for finishing runner-up at last month's Australian Masters Squash Championships in the women's 80-84 years category.

The event was held in Canberra this time around, after Smith won the same title in Adelaide last year.

It is not the first time she has made such a trip to the Masters, after making her first appearance in 2005.

"That was at the Central Coast and I've been all over the place since then," Smith said.

"Next year it will be in Bathurst."

Smith finished runner-up to Queenslander Eileen Barnard, who seems to have had the wood on Smith in previous years.

"We played a bit in the 70s age group, but I think she always beat me," Smith said.

"The hardest part for me on the court is my sight. I've only got about 60% vision so I lose the ball sometimes."

That is not to say it has dimmed her reflexes.

Smith proudly spoke of how she took an opponent almost 20 years her junior to five sets.

"She was in the 60-65 age group and I almost got her," Smith said.

"I also beat a 20-year-old at our club so I can't be too bad.

"The age is catching up a little bit but I'll keep playing."

Smith has had a long and storied career in local squash.

She began her playing days with the Grafton club in 1976, winning the most improved player award the same year.

That is where she stayed for "a few years", before moving to the South Grafton club.

The move was short-lived, and she returned to Grafton after South's clubrooms burnt down.

She still plays her weekly game of squash at Grafton every Tuesday, which sometimes also includes a round or two of racquetball.

"If you haven't played racquetball before you have to give it a go," Smith said.

"We play it for a bit of fun.



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