Mercy Place Colac resident Norena Larson may have played her last ‘crafty’ drop shot but the lifelong tennis enthusiast is still an avid follower of all the big tournaments, in particular the Australian Open.
Norena fell in love with tennis as a little girl — and it was a love affair that lasted most of her adult life.
“I thrived on the physical activity but I was also competitive and enjoyed driving myself to get the best possible results,” Norena says.
“Tennis is a sport where you can push yourself as hard as you like, but you are not physically buffeted by other people.”
Norena played in Gellibrand and Chapple Vale in Victoria’s Otway Ranges and forged great friendships through the sport.
She was widely regarded as a skilled and tough opponent. Mercy Place Colac Lifestyle Coordinator Mandy Dawes says she had the ‘misfortune’ to come up against Norena in pennant matches.
Our Mercy Place resident was “a force to be reckoned with”
“Norena was a force to be reckoned with — that’s the best way of putting it,” Mandy says. “She was also crafty on the court. She played good drop shots — I’m sure most of her opponents, like me, knew they were in for a tough afternoon when they found themselves drawn to play against Norena.”
Norena says she was lucky to come from a big family where sport and outside activities were always encouraged.
“My parents had 10 children — seven boys and three girls — and I was placed between two of the boys,” Norena says.
“A highlight of our lives was the day the Footscray legends Charlie Sutton and Ted Whitten came to Colac saying they wanted to sign up my brother Ronny Henrickson.
“Ronny played at the Bulldogs’ home ground, the Western Oval, for a couple of seasons — that’s how important sport was to us, as a family.”
Norena is a great advocate for healthy living.
“I think if you are active and you stick to a healthy diet, it gives you a better chance of ageing well as the years catch up,” Norena laughs.
“Yes, I miss the weekend pennant but I knew it couldn’t last forever. That’s when I became a great fan of all the tennis on television.”
Norena has no doubts about her favourite.
“I absolutely loved Evonne Goolagong [Cawley]… she was such a beautiful woman on the court, just the way she always seemed to smile, whatever the score,” Norena recalls.
“Ken Rosewall was another one of my favourites. ‘Muscles’, as everyone called him, was a great competitor who represented Australia so well, both on and off the court.”
And of the most recent players, Norena says she can’t go past Ash Barty.
“I know she retired because it was right for her but I would have loved to have seen her win a few more Wimbledons and Australian Opens.”