Joyce Cutts used to compete in the super senior age category at international tennis competitions. Now, the 91-year-old could simply be described as a super senior. From tennis to daily walks to making jam for a church fundraiser, Cutts is proof age is just a number.
"I couldn't ask for anything better," said Cutts, who lives within walking distance of the grocery store, her daughter's home, her church and the hair salon.
During a recent two-hour session against much younger seniors at the Capilano Tennis Club, Cutts deftly returned six consecutive shots before one of her opponents sent the ball into the net.
"In the last 15 minutes I do get a bit tired," said the seemingly ageless phenom, who uses a brace around her lower back to manage mild scoliosis. "There is some pain. I do not take any medication, although I do take a little Tylenol on occasion."
Cutts moved to Edmonton from Ontario two years ago, and is at the club every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the warm weather months. Once courts close, she walks from her Capilano-area condo to the nearby Hardisty Fitness Centre for a one-hour workout three times a week.
In the past year, Cutts has made 100 jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam and offered the proceeds to Grace United Church, where she attends. She plays bridge too, of course. Smiling, Cutts taps her head and says, "You need to work the mind, too!"
And every day, regardless of what else is on her busy schedule, there is always a walk.
"I go year-round. I've got a one-piece snow suit. Nothing stops me," added Cutts, who often wears gloves and carries a plastic bag to pick up garbage along the way.
Born on a farm in southern Saskatchewan in 1932, Cutts--one of 11 siblings--learned the importance of hard work at an early age.
"We all had a job to do. Bring in the wood to start the fire. You name it."
Her first brush with athletic excellence came while living in Medicine Hat when a fastball team Cutts played for as catcher won the provincial championships.
She started played tennis when she was 18 years old, along with a handful of other sports at the University of Alberta.
“I played basketball, volleyball, badminton," said Cutts, who was on the Pandas basketball and volleyball teams during the early 1950s while earning her Phys-ed degree. (In 2014 she was inducted into the U of A's Sports Wall of Fame.)
Cutts played tennis at an elite level for decades, once winning an Ontario singles title and capturing a Canadian doubles championship four times. Cutts also won numerous international events over the decades, including her final win in 2018 when she teamed up with another woman from France to win the 85 and over doubles event at the International Tennis Federation Super Seniors tournament in Croatia.
Her husband Robb Cutts, who she met on a tennis court in Montreal in the 1970s, passed away in 2002.
When asked if she has a favourite saying, Cutts provided two.
“’Keep it going’ and ‘Don’t ever stop.’”