For more than 40 years, Art Ouellette was a fixture at the Haliburton tennis courts.
He voluntarily helped Dysart et al public works staff maintain the courts, putting up nets, screens and fixing surface cracks. He also started a seniors’ tennis club that now has more than 30 members playing socially Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. Art, now 90, even played up until the age of 88.
Life has changed for Art the past couple of years with Alzheimer’s and spinal degeneration seeing him relocate to Frost Manor in Lindsay for the type of specialized care he now requires.
However, his love of the game continues with Art recently designing a tennis-ball game for residents of the long-term care facility, particularly targeting those in wheelchairs. A family member of another resident, Gerry Todd, made the game and now Art’s the toast of the manor.
“We figured out that anybody could play the game sitting down,” Art said.
His wife, Barb Lyons recently told The Highlander the Art Tennis Lob is a largescale board game. The playing surface is made from a door that Gerry cut in half. One half is the base with round holes of different sizes cut into its surface. The other half is a retractable surface that players can adjust to the angle they wish.
Players drop tennis balls down the incline towards the holes. They are awarded points based on the size of the hole where their ball lands, with smaller holes accounting for the highest number of points.
Balls can be knocked into the holes by other balls to accumulate points or knocked out to lose points. Barb said, “He has challenges but obviously it hasn’t stopped him from creating this tennis lob game. It was his plan to create something that was going to be safe and still challenging for the residents.”
Barb took down the 300-odd tennis balls that residents are using when they play on a regular basis.
“They absolutely love it,” she said. “They have at least 25 residents that play it. They just laugh.
“It’s fun to watch Art’s reaction and see the residents’ reaction. They are going up and cheering him and saying, ‘I’m so proud of you. Thanks Art. Thanks for such a fun game that is new and exciting’. They call him a hero.”
Barb said she and Art have been blessed with a son, daughter-in-law and grandson and they have all contributed to Art doing so well despite his health challenges. “He’s loved and adored and admired,” she said.
She added that moving to Frost Manor has been good for the man who has exercised all of his life up until the past couple of years. She said in the past six weeks, he had participated in 147 activities despite being in a wheelchair.
“He’s happy and that’s all that matters. I’m so proud of him.”