The Huntsman World Senior Games has two days remaining until the closing ceremony, but Whitehorse local Kenny Liao didn’t need to stick around St. George, Utah, the host city, as he returned home sporting some new hardware. Liao participated in the 50-59 open tennis division winning bronze.
Forgetting that there is a one-hour time difference between Whitehorse and Utah,
Liao’s first day of competition got off to a rocky start.
“My phone didn’t automatically change time,” said a laughing Liao. “I was an hour
late, but they still let me play, I was a little nervous at first.”
In his second match of the tournament Liao was defeated in straight sets losing 6-2,
6-0. With the loss Liao was relegated to the consolation rounds, were he won his next two matches, putting him into the bronze medal game.
Liao faced Roger Russell, one of the only two seeded players in the tournament for
bronze, defeating him in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2.
“I gave him pressure from the get-go, even in warm-ups I was hitting the ball at him hard,” chuckled Liao. “I surprised myself with how well I played. I am so excited about winning bronze. It was fun, after I won bronze people would come up to me and say ‘oh you are the player who came all the way from the Yukon!’”
With the single matches over, Liao turned his focus to the 50-59 open men’s doubles, were he teamed up with William Miles from Brigham City, Utah. The two came in fourth together, an achievement Liao is proud of.
“My partner was 69, so he had to play down in my age group,” said Liao. “In our final match we had some chances to win, the games were tight and went to a tie-breaker in each set, but the bounces went the other team’s way. For our first time playing together I am proud of fourth.”
Liao got his start playing tennis over 30 years ago in China. Having been in Canada for 17 years he enjoys playing in the summer, but hopes that Whitehorse will one day get an indoor court, so he can continue to practice through the winter.
It was Liao’s first year participating in the Games, but he has plans to attend again, hopefully next year.
“The Games were so well organized,” said Liao. “I am going to try and make it next year. It was fun. I am proud to be a Yukoner.”