Henry Tiberio, aged 89, has been a certified USPTA professional since 1974 and has held numerous New England Section No. 1 rankings in singles and doubles.
© Juan Ocampo
New England team captain Neil Whitehouse (right) owes a lot of his development as a player to Tiberio.
© Juan Ocampo
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. – Henry Tiberio is one of those special people you will never forget if you ever have the good fortune of meeting him.
The 89-year-old Tiberio of Beverly, Mass. is the oldest player competing at this weekend’s 2011 USTA League Super Senior 7.0 & 9.0 National Championships at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
A member of the New England 7.0 Super Senior men’s team, Tiberio has been a certified USPTA professional since 1974 and has held numerous New England Section No. 1 rankings in singles and doubles in his age group.
He has also held multiple national Top 10 singles rankings in his age division and at one time held a world Top 10 ranking in the men’s 85 division.
Tiberio, who was born in 1922, is currently on the staff of the Bass River Tennis Club in Beverly, Mass. and serves as USTA coordinator for Senior and Super Senior Leagues at the club and helps to run men’s round robins.
Back when he was in high school, Tiberio was on the rowing team, but one day when he saw two people playing on the tennis court he was captivated by what he saw. "I said, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ They were hitting the ball and getting the ball back," said Tiberio, who would later join his high school tennis team.
Tiberio later earned his Master’s Degree from Boston University and would work in Social Services for 36 years. During that time, he played tennis on weekends, but when he retired in the mid-1980s, tennis became his second career.
As a USPTA teaching professional, Tiberio has been an inspiration to many players by offering encouragement in his unique style.
Team captain Neil Whitehouse and other team members credited Tiberio as the reason they were playing in the Nationals.
"Henry is what you would call an ideal tennis pro. He’s old school in a lot of ways, given his age. He is very devoted to tennis. His first love has always been tennis. He brings a wealth of history to his devotion," Whitehouse said. "He also brings that real caring sense. Most of the people involved in tennis back in New England know who Henry is and love having him around. "
It is obvious that Tiberio is respected and loved not only by his team, but many of his competitors as well. As he walked around the traditional player party on Thursday night, players continually stopped him to shake his hand and wish him well.
In his humble manner, Tiberio, who will turn 90 this June, has made a lasting impact on the lives of many people including his team captain.
"He has been instrumental in bringing me from a novice player to playing on a National Championship stage. He’s inspired that in me by his encouragement," Whitehouse said. "Most people I believe would say pretty much the same thing. He has inspired them to get involved in the game, play the game and raise their game. Henry’s venue is tennis. This is a guy you want to get to know."
What asked about his experience with USTA League tennis and what it meant to be playing in this weekend’s National Championship, Tiberio responded, "Tennis is part of life. It speaks for itself. I’m having a good time. It’s a very nice way to spend time and to live a happy life."