An oldie but a goodie
EVERGREEN tennis player Chris O'Mara is proof that success isn't always found overnight.
O'Mara, 45, didn't start playing tournaments until he was 19 and has already had a week to remember on the Northern Rivers.
He took out the open men's division at the Lismore Open Championships on Monday and is the No.7 seed in the Ballina New Year Open.
It is the first time he has played in Ballina and he kicked off his campaign with a dominant 6-1 6-0 win over Benjamin Parr yesterday.
It hasn't been an easy start to 2014 for O'Mara, whose mother died late last month.
"It's been tough but we're getting there," O'Mara said.
"The goal is just to play some good tennis and try to win this tournament now as well.
"I grew up on a farm and didn't get the chance to start playing in tournaments until I was 19.
"Not playing much as a kid just makes me want to keep playing more in my later years."
O'Mara did an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker in his early 20s before taking the opportunity to play in France for three years.
He spent the next decade running his own business before he found his calling in seniors tennis.
O'Mara is eighth in the world in the Over-45s senior rankings and second in doubles.
"In tennis you learn a lot about yourself and I discovered that in France," he said.
"I didn't even realise you could play seriously in senior competition so that was a great find for me.
"I ended up going overseas and playing with Australia in the world championships."
About 90 players have entered the Ballina tournament across junior and senior divisions.
The open men's division is made up mostly of teenagers but that doesn't bother O'Mara.
"I rely on my serve a lot and don't worry about what the other guys are doing," he said.