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. No. 12 FSU, freshman QB James Blackman struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — Whatever was left of No. 12 Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes suffered a massive, likely fatal, blow Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  2. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  3. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:

  4. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  5. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]