Despite a full and hectic schedule as UMass’ tennis coach, I continued to play tennis and to compete. In 2005, however, that changed when I started having a series of extremely unusual and sometimes scary symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, and then sudden temporary blindness. I can’t begin to count the number of trips I made to doctors and specialists, locally and in Boston, without a diagnosis. Finally, nearly a year after my symptoms began, a specialist at Mass General determined that I had a chiari malformation–a condition where your brain stem sits too low, cutting off the flow of spinal fluid. I needed brain surgery. Right away. That journey is a story for another time, but suffice it to say it was a difficult recovery. But with the support of my family, friends, and the UMass team (who came to my house often during my recovery so that I could work from home), I was back at work within 5 months, and I returned to competitive tennis a 8 months later.
I competed as a member of the USTA senior level as a member of the New England team for 30 years. In 2014, in the USTA 65 division, the New England team (with Lee Delfausse, Sheila Weinstock, myself, Captain Molly Hahn, Pam Simons, and Bernadette Lehmann) made it to the National Championships. There, we defeated Mid-Atlantic, then Southern in the semifinals, and finally 3rd-seeded Northern California to win the cup! Each year I competed with the New England team was special to me, but given my hectic work schedule, this was the extent of my ability to compete personally.
In 2017, since retiring, I decided I would return to competing in the super senior doubles and singles USTA tour. In October, I made it to the Super Senior World International Championships. In Singles, I made it to the quarter-finals, and in Doubles, my partner Molly Hahn and I lost only in the Finals to the Australian team, earning a silver medal, and along the way defeating the #1 team in the United States. I was interviewed about my experience for the Republican:
John Mayotte and Judy Dixon Doing Well as Super Seniors of Tennis
My plan is to continue competing. I’ve met women in the 90+ division, and they are my role models. This year, I qualified to play with the United States seniors at the ITF World Tennis Championships in Croatia. Stay up-to-date with all of my tennis competition by following my blog.