Mary Jane Murphy might be the best 90-year-old tennis player you ever met.
That's no backhanded compliment. The grandmother of 30 plays doubles twice a week at the Oak Lawn Racquet Club for 30 years, and she's been playing tennis for over eight decades and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
"Never underestimate her size,' said her friend and occasional doubles partner Mary Casserly. "She's not very tall, but she's very fast and she can hit the ball a ton!"
Murphy, who was honored by this week by the Oak Lawn Park District for her contributions to the district, where she is a charter member racquet club.
Why so much tennis?
"It's great exercise," Murphy said. "You can do more running playing tennis, and of course you use your arms too."
Not to mention, she flat out loves the game.
Murphy playing as a young girl in Avalon Park in Chicago at the local tennis court with used tennis balls collected from players, now she's a local legend with a no shortage of potential opponents. She admits that a lot has changed in the sport since she began playing as a young girl.
"When we started they were all wooden rackets," she says looking at the one in her hand and cracks a smile. "Now they're mostly metal and I don't know, uranium? titanium? Or something or other."
Her game hasn't changed all that much. She may be a bit more brittle than her teens and 20s, but she moves with the speed and reflexes not typical of a 90 year old.
"Here, they call me Tiger," Murphy admits shyly. "But I don't know why."
Casserly explains that the nick name came from former tennis pro Chris Chenoweth after watching Murphy play.
"She's very ferocious on the courts," Casserly said.
Murphy has no plans to quit playing a sport that she credits with keeping her healthy and vibrant.
"I think its taught me not to give up, to keep trying, and to keep moving."