The European Senior Championships are taking place this week in Pörtschach, Austria, where 350 of the world’s best senior players have been in action across 11 age categories. Amongst them was Men’s Over 45 world #1 Clemens Weinhandl.
The Oberwart resident made the most of his home advantage to extend his unbeaten streak in 2019 to 12 matches, picking up a third consecutive title. We caught up with him to find out more about life on the ITF Senior Circuit.
How does it feel to be able to play such a big event at ‘home’?
First of all it was good to have it at home because it meant I could manage it better with my job, coming and going. I also had a big support from the family, my wife Anna, my two kids Nick and Mimi, and my parents, who came yesterday for the semis. I am happy to make them proud of me as a husband, father and son.
Tell us a bit about your tennis life. How did you get started?
I started when I was 9 years old. I would say that the best period in my tennis career was at the age of 17 or 18, when I was playing the first division in Austria. Afterwards I was more focused on my studies and personal life and job.
What do you do for a living, and how do you manage to combine it with so much tennis?
I am running a company with 25 employees. Besides that, I teach at a University temporarily. They call me a freak probably because of my time management. Sometimes I play at 6am and normally I start working at 6.30am. When I practise I do so with the highest possible intensity.
You’re a world #1. Is the ranking your main motivation for playing these tournaments?
To be the number one makes me very proud of course, but at the same time the main motivation is just to compete at a high level and to enjoy the off court time spent with my opponents and tennis friends.
What do you like most about the ITF Senior Circuit?
There are many well organised tournaments and I really appreciate the friendships and respect within the senior community.
What’s your proudest achievement in tennis?
Of course, I am very proud of many titles from the time before I reached the senior circuit. I am no longer that much focused on results, but I keep several really significant matches in my memory. One example is in Mallorca ten years ago when I played the semifinals of the World Championships against Sandor Noszaly. I won a thriller after more than 4 hours. Or another one from this year when I played Emilio Alvarez at the Grade A event in Turkey and I won after 3 hours of fighting at a very high level. After the match we spent the same amount of time having beers and chatting as best friends. For me that’s the best example how the senior circuit should work.
What are your goals for the future?
I would be very happy to keep my position as the world number one, and to perform better than I did last year at the World Championships in Miami.