WHEELING - There's a first time for everything. That's what 92-year-old Lt. Col. William Lentz Jr. is saying after getting swept for the first time in doubles play at the Jack Dorsey Memorial Senior Open Championships on Friday at Oglebay.
''I've never been beat like I was (Friday),'' Lentz said. ''That never happens.''
But after a lifetime of playing tennis, you learn how to roll with the punches.
''I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I first picked up my mother's old racket,'' the Allegheny County native recalled. ''I've been playing off and on ever since.''
The longest Lentz was away from tennis was during the four years he served his country during War World II. But Lentz's favorite memory of beating a German didn't happen during his time in Europe, but rather several years later on the courts.
''It was at a Hersey tournament at least 20 years ago. He was over here touring and had won a gold medal at the Olympics back in 1936. A friend of mine and I beat him in doubles. He was ranked as the No. 1 player in the world at the time. That's my greatest tennis memory.''
Lentz found out about the Jack Dorsey Memorial tournament through some friends and has become a long-time participant.
''Probably 10 or so years now I've been coming here,'' Lentz said. ''When Jack Dorsey ran it, I came here every year. It's a wonderful tournament.
''I didn't get here last year because I had a bad fall. It took me 11 months to recover. When the 11 months were up, my son said 'Dad you're qualified to play in the senior games in Texas' and I told him I'd never make it.
"He took me out for three weeks and ran me all over the court. And then when we got to Houston, he even made me run around the hotel.''
But all the ''running around'' paid off as Lentz and Bill Nicolai were named champions in doubles play at the National Senior Games.
''(Bill's) my normal partner, but he couldn't make it here,'' Lentz said.
''At my club, they call us the Kamikaze Twins. Whenever someone has an overhand smash, instead of running backwards, we run right to it and hold up our rackets infront of us. Sometimes they hit the racket and you get a point, and sometimes the ball hits you.''
Lentz has spent more six decades on the courts and was inducted into the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame on May 9, 2009, in New Kensington, Pa. He published a book - ''Tennis 202'' - on doubles strategy and tactics.
Lentz has three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and says they all play tennis.
''It's a lifetime sport,'' he said. ''You can play it all year long and I'm making the most of it.''