Josep Altisent (Reus, 1940) is one of those people whom sport turns into examples. Beings that use this activity to feel alive and break with the clichés that society often places unfairly. The man from Reus is 82 years old, an age that has not prevented him from enjoying sports just as he did in his youth. He also does it competitively, being considered one of the best tennis players in the entire country. At the Valls Tennis Club he trains three times a week with people much younger than him. It is the way to prepare for it. His way of living. “I want them to know that I am alive”, is his most mythical phrase when he calls the Diari to tell about his usual successes.
However, before his arrival in tennis there is another sport in which he excelled in his youth. He started playing soccer until he was 33 years old. It was a race for several teams from the province such as La Cava, Valls, Pobla de Mafumet, Reddis… It even reached the Third Division in an opportunity that occurred in a somewhat peculiar and unexpected way: «I was doing the I served in Melilla and they did some tests and I passed them. I played in the Third Division with Melilla and I coincided with players like Donato, who would later play for Sevilla in the First Division.
His career as an amateur soccer player came to an end and there began the search for any sport that would allow him to continue his activity. “I am a very active person and I always need to be doing things.” At the age of 38, he discovered tennis at the hands of some friends: «They told me to go play with them and they taught me. The truth is that I liked it and from the first moment I was good at it and I began to compete in veterans’ territorial tournaments».
He combined tennis at that time with football for veterans that he practiced in the Valls Veterans Association, until he said enough. «There came a time when 30-year-olds began to play and I was already 50 and was not up to those jogs. I definitely switched to tennis, which is a sport with less risk as there is no contact.
A vertiginous record
At a territorial level, Altisent was already a well-known player who had managed to win the veterans’ championships in the +45, +50 and +55 categories. However, it was not until his retirement from the metallurgy sector, at the age of 60, that he began to compete regionally and statewide. There he began a dizzying career in which he has proven to be one of the best tennis players in the country in the veteran category.
His track record speaks for itself: 15 years dominating the Catalan Championships, four times champion of Spain, three times runner-up in Spain, six times champion of Spain in doubles and he has just recently won another Catalan in the +80 category. Now he has his next challenge in May, which will be the national one at the Rafa Nadal Academy. There he will defend the colors of the Barcelona club Andrés Gimeno: «I had to go there because here in Tarragona there are no clubs with categories of +70. It’s a shame and by proximity I chose them.”
His family follows him and supports him closely in each tournament. She feels them next to him and the sport too. “I play tennis three times a week and the rest of the days I go for a walk or go to the gym if it rains,” he says before repeating his phrase, which is basically an example of life: “I’m excited to go out in the Diari because I want you to know that I am alive.” Josep Altisent, the tennis player who has turned sport into a vital pillar. An example for all.