As a world number one ranked player it is little surprise that Kiwi seniors tennis ace Peter Hampton is relishing the thought of competing at the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland.
Following a near 50-year affiliation with the sport, Hampton has tasted some success at all levels of the game but it as a seniors player where the Cantabrian has enjoyed the most fruitful period of his tennis career.
Introduced to the game aged “eight or nine” by his father, Ray, who ran the junior programme at the Shirley Tennis Club in Christchurch, son Peter quickly developed a passion for the sport and excelled in the junior grades.
He won national under-16 titles and the New Zealand junior men's singles title before heading overseas to try his hand as a professional.
His world singles ranking reached 318 and he played doubles at the French Open, but he fell short of achieving his ultimate ambitions and quit the circuit in his mid-20s.
“I played as a professional for four years but realised I wasn't going to be a top player,” says Peter, 57.“I coached in Germany for a couple of years then came home and bought a business here in Christchurch.”
He has always remained actively associated with the sport, although with a new business to run in importing candle products and a young family to raise other commitments took precedence.
However, ten years ago when the NZ Seniors Tennis Individual Championships arrived on his doorstep in his native Christchurch he decided to chance his arm in the seniors game.
“I enjoyed getting back into it and found it was a good way of keeping fit and healthy,” says Peter, who plays tennis twice a week and also incorporates gym and yoga sessions into his weekly routine. “I'm probably fitter now than I was ten years ago.”
In the past decade he gone on to win a staggering 25 New Zealand seniors titles in the various age groups in men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles and he has also enjoyed international success.
At the 2012 ITF Seniors World Individual Championships, Peter reached the semi-finals of the men's singles and reached the final of the mixed doubles in the 55+ age group. He is currently ranked number one in the world in the mixed doubles along with his Queenstown-based playing partner Felicity Oxnevad, number 14 in the men's doubles and number 23 in the men's singles.
His next big aim is to perform with distinction at the ITF Seniors World Individual Championships in France in June but he is also relishing the prospect of the World Masters Games coming to his homeland in a little over two years time.
“It is great that New Zealand is hosting the Games,” admits Peter who plans to compete in men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles in the 60+ age group in Auckland. “I hope that the rest of the world comes to support the Games. It is a great opportunity to meet people from other countries in what is a global event.”