Sports bring people together… and for the Tennis Kakis, a shared love for the racquet sport has bonded the group over three decades.
EVERY Saturday, a group of zestful seniors breaks the quiet weekend morning with the swinging ‘whoosh’ of racquets and thudding ‘pock’ of tennis balls being served, occasionally breaking out in peals of hearty laughter.
Meet the Tennis Kakis, a close-knit group of tennis-loving buddies whose history traces back to over 30 years ago.
The Tennis Kakis started out as an interest group formed in 1990 by a handful of colleagues working together in Philips. The group originally called themselves the Kallang Tennis Kakis because its members would meet regularly for tennis sessions at the Kallang Tennis Centre. Over time, more people joined them and they subsequently played at other locations.
“I’ve been with Tennis Kakis since I started working at Philips many years ago. Some of the members were still very young back then,” recounted retiree Joseph Mok, 80, who is the oldest member of Tennis Kakis.
When asked what motivated him to pick up tennis instead of other sports, the grandfather of four replied candidly: “During my school days, I didn’t have the opportunity to play tennis because only the rich boys could afford tennis racquets and balls. I only stepped onto the tennis court once, when they needed a ball picker. So, when I started working and Philips had all the different sports interest groups, I immediately signed up for tennis.”
From sportsmanship to friendship
Three decades on, while many new members joined the group and some moved on to other countries, 13 of them remain united, meeting up every Saturday morning to play tennis and enjoy breakfast together.
Sohindar Singh, 73, who used to be the most senior within the group in terms of designation during their Philips days, is now the Chairman of Tennis Kakis. He said: “My job is just to keep everybody together and ensure we keep up our teamwork and sportsmanship. Everything else is handled by the team: Peter manages the finances; Leong, our captain, takes care of the tennis court bookings and planning of the games; and Francis does all the marketing and promotion, such as managing our Facebook group page.”
Outside of the tennis court, the group makes a conscious effort to strengthen bonds through social activities, meeting up for meals as well as celebrating each and every member’s birthday.
Like a family, no one gets left behind. Thus, whenever any member of the group faces a problem, the rest will jump in to help spur him or her on too.
Striding on as an octogenarian… Joseph Mok (centre, in bright blue) celebrated his 80th birthday in May this year with the Tennis Kakis.
Beyond Singapore’s shores
Over the years, the Tennis Kakis have also travelled to many places like Bintan, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Malacca to play friendly matches with the local hosts.
“Our Malacca trip has been the most memorable so far. Besides playing tennis matches on two different days, we also had dinner with the host. We made such good friends with the Malacca Club that they’re calling us back,” revealed Sohindar.
With the lifting of travel restrictions, the Tennis Kakis have already started planning their next trip to Malacca in September this year.
Game on… The Malacca Club tennis group hosted Tennis Kakis in Malacca in January 2020.
With age catching up for many of its members, the group has explored creative ways to adapt the sport, such as introducing a three-a-side game so that it is less tiring for older members and the rally can go on much longer.
Sohindar admitted that it was initially a bit confusing as to which position each player should take. “But all the rules have been set now, and we enjoy ourselves!”
The grandfather of three, who recently went for his annual health screening, also shared how sports have kept his blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels in check – besides tennis, Sohindar also cycles 20 kilometres a week and swims regularly.
“When I saw the doctor, she was amazed by my test results. I do not require any medication at this age. It’s all thanks to the active lifestyle that I’m able to maintain here in Singapore!”
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Article published on 25 July 2022