Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Recreational Sports

At 68, Spring Hill man's still got game

MIKE CAMUNAS   |   Times


SPRING HILL — It doesn't seem as though Jose Borges considers himself a senior citizen.

At 68, he clearly qualifies to be an AARP, Price-Is-Right-watching retiree, and this former construction worker from Massachusetts has played — and medaled — in three Senior Olympics for table tennis. But as of now, he's training overtime to qualify at the State Championships on Dec. 8 for the 2009 Senior Olympics in San Francisco.

"I never did anything like this before these games and when I knew I was going to move down here, I wanted to qualify for them. I wanted to play against competition," Borges said. "It's satisfying and this is the only way I can keep playing. I want the competition."

Borges, who started playing in 1958, has easily devoted a good portion of his life to the sport. Not only does he have 1,748 points from events he plays year around, he's been training nearly 10 hours a week so he can qualify in his age group for either singles, doubles or mixed doubles.

"I don't think he plays too much," said Albina Borges, his wife of 45 years. "He loves to play, but maybe he does too much when he plays for stretches and forgets to drink some water. That may be too much."

Borges practices about threes times a week, and he even has a robotic server that spits out pingpong balls at whatever rate he chooses. It's one of the reasons he got so good.

The other has been the 50 years of constant playing.

"For a senior, he's one of the best in his age class in Florida," said Ray Spann, communications officer for the Lakeland Table Tennis Association, the group that holds many events Borges plays in. "He's an excellent partner and those are hard to find. He can sit there and return the ball hundreds of times without missing. He can go for hours without missing a shot. It's just amazing to watch the guy."

Spann calls Borges "a consistent player" which "at 68 years old is phenomenal to do that," though what really stands out about Borges to Spann is that in two years, he'll be 70, moving him to the 70-74 age bracket.

And if Borges' skills don't — probably won't — diminish, look out.

"He's in such good shape for his age," Spann said. "He's going to dominate when he gets to that (70 and up) bracket. He just has a very consistent stroke, with his forehand and backhand. I would easily consider him one of the top players I know."

Spann realizes Borges has his work cut out. Thing is, Borges is 68, meaning he has to look out for the younger guns: the 65-year-olds, who are fresh to this division.

And the competition will be tough. There will be players there from all over the state.

"We're going to have over 100 players competition at the championships in his age bracket," Spann said. "It's not going to be a cakewalk. He's going to really have to have some extra game to finish in the medals.

"But he has no real weakness. Some players will have a downfall, but he really doesn't have one — a real sound player all the way around."

It's easy to say Borges is consistent. Actually, he confirms it by saying, "All the guys I started playing with (in 1958), they gave up — I still play," Borges said. That's all fine and dandy, but so many years later, there's got to be a reason behind all those sweaty hours in his garage, playing pingpong by himself, keeping score in his head.

And that reason is as simple as Borges' game.

"I love the game and I like the competition," Borges said. "When I came down here and start playing, I have a friend who says, 'Bah, you're playing old men. Those guys, they can't even move.' But they can, and I can and to prove to my friends — to anyone, that we old guys can still play."

Mike Camunas can be reached at or (352) 544-1771.


Jose Borges

Age: 68

Resides: Spring Hill

His Senior Olympics medals
(The games alternate every odd year)

2003: Bronze, singles

2005: Gold, men's doubles; gold, mixed doubles

2007: Gold, mixed doubles

At 68, Spring Hill man's still got game 11/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 7:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”