By Tom LaDue, USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. - You’ve heard of Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, but I’m sure you’ve never heard of Titanium Tabor. Well let me introduce you to sixty-five years young Joyce Tabor from Orange Park, Fla.; part of the Florida women’s section team looking to claim a National Championship this weekend at the 2008 USTA League presented by Chrysler 4.5 Senior National Championships.
“I’ve got more titanium in my body than my racquet,” laughs Joyce.
Tabor started playing tennis over forty years ago while in graduate school and is not planning on giving it up anytime soon.
In 1997, Tabor encountered her second back surgery and as a result, thought she would never be able to hit the courts again.
“All the credit goes to Dr. Joseph Cauthen from Gainesville, Florida. I never thought I would able to pick up a racquet again,” replied Joyce. “I had two titanium discs put in my back.”
Four weeks later she was back on the courts playing competitive tennis. Seven weeks after the surgery she ran a three mile race.
“I was eager to get back out their…what can I say,” replied Tabor.
In 2003, it was back to the operating room, this time for a complete titanium knee replacement surgery by Dr. Tod Northrup in Saint Augustine, Fla.
And just like the back surgery….four weeks later Joyce was back on the court playing the game she loves, tennis.
“I just can’t get enough of it,” she replied.
In 2005, Joyce was part of the Florida team that made it to the USTA League National Championships but came up short as the team failed to advance to the final day.
Fast-forward to 2006 and it was déjà vu all over again for Joyce. Back to the operating table for another titanium knee replacement this one for her other knee.
“Four weeks later I was back on the court,” joked Tabor. “It seems like my recovery time was always four weeks before I could hit the courts.
Once back on the courts Joyce was determined to make it back to the USTA League National Championships which brings us to 2008.
When asked what it meant to be back Joyce smiled and said, “I’m lucky….It’s a dream come true coming back to Nationals. The fact that I can still play the game I love is just wonderful.”
Joyce has become an inspiration to all of her teammates especially those here in Tucson, Ariz.
“She was at the gym at 4:30 AM on the elliptical while we were all still in bed before our match at 7:30,” stated teammate Helen Ciesla. “We only wish we had the exercise regiment that she has.”
Joyce also jumps rope to warm up before matches to warm up and after to cool down.
Teammate Mo Hotchkiss has had the privilege of playing and calling Joyce a friend for the last twelve years. “Joyce pretty much drives the bus for our team. If you happen to feel a little cramp or something during the match and you happen to look over and see Joyce on the court next to you playing…well you just suck it up and keep going.”
“I’d be in a wheelchair today if it wasn’t for all of the wonderful doctors along the way that have made it possible for me to continue to play this sport,” smiled Joyce. “If you can get to the right people they can do amazing things with artificial joints.”
Unfortunately Joyce’s team will not be advancing to the Finals this year but just to be out on the court competing against fellow tennis fanatics is good enough for her.