92-year-old North Carolina tennis champ proves age is just a number

RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – If you venture to the Raleigh Racquet Club, you’ll find 92-year-old Tio Campanile running the baseline on a daily basis.

“He’s in good physical shape. He moves very well,” said Campanile’s coach and friend Andrew Terrell.

“I’m in pretty good shape,” Campanile added. “I work a lot at staying in shape.”

Terrell taught Campanile how to play tennis when he was in his 50s because golf just wasn’t his sport.

“(Andrew) could tell I was quite frustrated,” Campanile said, “and as I passed the court, he said, ‘Why don’t you try tennis?'”

Campanile has been dishing out aces ever since. “With (Andrew’s) teachings, I got started with tennis, and I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said. Campanile has enjoyed it so much, he’s still showing off his forehand at the age of 92 and is the U.S. Tennis Association’s clay court 90 & above national champ and the grass runner-up.

“The tournament director said that as far as individuals 90 years and above, he had never seen anyone serve like Tio,” recalled friend John Bruckel.

Campanile added, “They seem to respect the age that I’ve been able to achieve this at, and that gives me a sense of pride an honor.”

“He does a lot of things, like riding a motorcycle. He does his own yard work. He does a lot of woodworking. He’s got endless energy,” Bruckel said. “Beyond tennis he inspires you in so many other ways.”

Campanile is living proof that it’s never too late to find your sport.

“It’s a lifetime sport. I didn’t start to play it until later because I was into team sports,” he said. “It doesn’t discriminate by age, so far.”