A hip replacement and two knee replacements could not slow down Gill Schmidt and Mike Aubrey.
The Ahwatukee pair overcame a few physical shortcomings with experience and a strong mental approach.
Down went in No. 3 seed; then feel to the No. 2 seed; Schmidt and Aubrey finally toppled to the No. 4 seed to win last month’s U.S. Racquetball Association 65-and-over open division doubles national championship at Arizona State University.
“We just gelled well,” Schmidt said. “We didn’t lose one game. All of our matches were sweeps. We were confident we would play well against anybody.”
That confidence came from years as professional players. But that was decades ago. Before Aubrey had his hip replaced 2 1/2 years ago, and before both Schmidt’s knees were replaced two years ago.
After the surgeries, Schmidt couldn’t pick up a racquet until about a year ago. Doctors told him he shouldn’t play at all anymore.
“I wasn’t having that,” said Schmidt, who now sticks mainly to doubles because there is less court to cover and less wear and tear on his knees.
It was a somewhat last-minute decision to enter the tournament after the pair played against 40 year olds for a couple weeks and determined they were ready.
Then Aubrey injured his arm in the first match.
“I wasn’t sure we’d do too well because of our past surgeries, and then I injured myself in the first game,” Aubrey said. “But we pulled through.”
Schmidt previously coached the ASU club team for four years and owns a couple businesses in downtown Tempe. Aubrey is a real estate broker in Ahwatukee who won the world seniors singles event five times.
Both moved to Ahwatukee in 1985.
Neither was sure if they would have entered the tournament had it not been so close to home. But they are pretty sure they will travel to defend their title so long as next year’s event isn’t too far.
“And I think we’ll do better because Gill will have another year on his knees,” Aubrey said.
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