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NEWS

Spokane’s Acuff Hangs Tough at Senior Nationals

October 21, 2011 04:46 PM
Art Acuff of Spokane, Wash. hits a volley.
Art Acuff of the Pacific Northwest Section Senior Men's 3.5 team.
Art and his wife Julie Acuff.
By J. Fred Sidhu, Special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif.
– There will be many players battling it out on the tennis court at this weekend’s USTA Senior 3.5 League National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. But there will be one player in particular who is facing the biggest battle of them all.

Art Acuff, a 68-year-old resident of Spokane, Wash, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2007. After multiple chemotherapy treatments and multiple operations, including one to remove the tumor, the cancer eventually spread to Acuff’s liver.

"After every operation I had chemo and then we tried different kinds of chemo," Acuff said. "We finally realized it (cancer) is winning. It’s finally affected me physically enough that it’s getting more interesting to be able to stay upright."

Despite his struggles with the cancer, Acuff continues to play tennis, which he began playing when he was 32 years old. "I didn’t have the…calmness you need for golf, so I took up tennis, which was a little more active. I’ve been playing tennis for approximately 36 years," he said.

Acuff, who is retired, but still drives a school bus, credits tennis for helping him through his illness. "Tennis has been a really big part because it’s given me a physical goal to maintain," he said. "No matter what has been going on with the chemo or operations, I’ve been able to come back and play tennis, sometimes within a week after the small operations."

Prior to making the trip to Indian Wells, Acuff, who enjoys bass fishing and hunting, finished a four-day mountain trip in Northeastern Washington. He is being accompanied in Indian Wells this weekend by his wife and one of his sons along with his daughter and son-in-law.

Acuff is playing in his first USTA League National. "It’s really exciting. It’s excellent to be here," he said. "The USTA has done a good job of organizing these competitions. It feels good and it’s been a lot of fun."

When asked what his latest diagnosis was, Acuff replied, "The latest diagnosis is that they (doctors) have done all they can now. I’m a little bit afraid this might be the swan song, but we’ll see. You never know. I know that life goes on and it’s good for today."
 

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