Yukoner Ken Liao was in St. George, Utah, for the Huntsman World Senior Games where he earned a bronze medal and a fourth-place finish in tennis.
Competing in the men’s singles 50-59 open category, Liao won his quarter-final match against St. George local Russ Goldman in straight sets (6-0, 6-1).
In the semifinal, Liao matched up against eventual gold-medal-winner Victor Phillips of Hyde Park, Utah. Liao took two games from Phillips in the opening set, losing 6-2, and went on to lose the second set 6-0.
On the consolation side of the bracket, Liao beat Neal Harris to book a ticket into the bronze medal match against Patrick Sullivan of Evergreen, Colo.
Liao continued his strong play, winning 6-0, 6-2 to take third place.
In doubles competition, Liao teamed up with William Miles, a 69-year-old from Brigham City, Utah.
The duo opened play with a match against Russ Goldman and Myles McKell, both from St. George.
Liao said starting a tournament with a new doubles partner is tricky, but that the two quickly got on the same page.
“It took a little bit of time to get used to each other,” said Liao. “If you’re a longtime player, it only takes a while and we … figure out how to play. But, of course it’s not the perfect thing.”
The duo opened their first match with a 7-6 win followed by a 6-2 loss, setting up the all-important third set.
In the third set, Liao and Miles found some chemistry and rattled off a 7-4 win to advance into the semifinals of the championship bracket.
Liao and Miles faced off against the duo of Brent Gray and Norm Kester, losing 6-0, 6-2 and heading off to the consolation bracket.
In the consolation semifinals, Liao and Miles beat Pradeep Amesur and Harris before losing to Kelly Perry and Lyle Reber, (7-6, 6-7, 14-12).
A far cry from Yukon autumn weather, temperatures throughout the tournament hovered near 30 C.
“It was hot for us,” said Liao. “(St. George) is a beautiful city.”
This was the first time Liao has competed at the games, held annually in St. George since 1987, and he said he would like to go again, but that the locals have a bit of a competitive advantage.
“Those players can play all year round,” said Liao. “Here, we can only play a few months outdoors. Luckily we had good weather this summer so I played lots, I practiced lots — that’s a good thing.”
The Huntsman World Senior Games started in 1987 as an international sporting event to be held annually for participants age 55 and above. The age minimum was lowered at the second games to 50.
Each year the games include 30 athletic events over a two-week period in October.
This year’s games included athletes from more than 30 different countries, some in their 90s.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org