ALWAYS a bridesmaid and now — finally — a bride.
Or a club champion at least.
At 59, Barry Norton claimed his first Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club championship back in February, winning 8-7 against Mitch Cox.
“There have been a few years I’ve been runner-up and I can name a few people who have stood in the way,” he laughed.
“We’ve produced some terrific tennis players — the likes of Damien Morvell, Bill Stone, Ken Pritchard and Wayne Hanslow — I was able to play against them, which is an honour to say.
“These are top country Vic players so I was always the bridesmaid.
“There’ll be people saying ‘Norts must have fluked that’. And I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.”
After a stroke when he was younger and a hip replacement two years ago, Norton was sure he’d be playing tennis just for the social aspect.
“The specialist said I’d be able to play but not really perform competitively so I put my name down to fill numbers for the season — it’s quite embarrassing really,” he said.
“I don’t really know how it happened, the planets just aligned. David Starling would be laughing his head off. He didn’t play and neither did Mark Schumann.
“The only thing I can credit it to is that I’m probably a smarter player compared to when I was younger, hopefully the young blokes are learning a bit from this old fella,” he laughed.
From going to give the game away 10 years ago to club champ — he says the eight-game set helped his run to victory
“I’m not a three set man. Young Mitch Cox didn’t take it lying down and that’s a credit to him,” he said.
“He got back to level from 5-3, he could have dropped the bundle but he didn’t — well so could I, though.’’
But he’s not one to toot his own horn, nor does he have any major plans for a back-to-back victory.
“I’ll probably be playing socially for the next three to four years and then call it a day,” he said.
“I’m proud of my fitness for my age and I’ve always been involved in the KLTC so it’s great to be able to have my name on the honour board.”