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Lloyd Lettis, 100, begins his second century on the tennis courts


LOS ALTOS, CA – OCTOBER 19: Lloyd Lettis arrives at dawn to play his first tennis match as a 100 year old, Monday morning, Oct. 19, 2020, at Los Altos High School. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

As the sun broke Monday morning over Los Altos High School, Lloyd Lettis hurried onto the tennis courts much as he’s done three times a week for the past thirty years.

But today would be different.

It would be his first time he’d be playing as a 100-year-old.

“G’ morning, sorry, I’m a couple minutes late,” he apologized.

LOS ALTOS, CA – OCTOBER 19: Centenarian Lloyd Lettis, center, poses for a group shot with his tennis partners and fellow retirees (l-r) Tony Plutynski, 84, Richard Hyman, 79, V.L. Bhaskar, 83, and Bart Miauliis, 78, at Los Altos High School, Monday morning, Oct. 19, 2020. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

His fellow players, a group of retired youngsters mostly in their mid-80s, weren’t cutting the newly minted centenarian any slack, though. His doubles partner, Tony Plutynski, 84, teased, “any day you’re vertical is a good day, right?”

And while warming up Plutynski remarked, “You should have seen him play when he was 99.”

Lettis was born in Watsonville in 1920 and worked at the family’s pear and apple orchards before attending UC Berkeley and joining the Air Force as a radar engineer in World War II. He was late Monday because he’d spent a week celebrating his big triple-digit milestone.

And that’s not easy to do in a pandemic.

His daughter Suzanne Epstein arrange a Zoom call for his family early last Thursday on his actual big day. And that afternoon, she organized a parade of socially-distant friends who cruised past his driveway in Mountain View.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – OCTOBER 15: Lloyd Lettis waves from his driveway during a celebration for his 100th birthday as friends pass by in a 1926 Model T, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, Mountain View, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

The procession included members of his Friends of the Library group, card players from his bridge club, and neighbors who brought cards and tubes of tennis balls. A representative of the fraternal group Sons In Retirement even brought a framed proclamation.

Bob and Pat Meneely drove past in their 1926 Model T, blowing the horn to say, “we didn’t bring our 1919 model, Lloyd, because we didn’t want to show you up.”

When asked the obligatory question about his secret of longevity, Lettis replied, “No secret. Well actually, maybe it was the farm. Maybe it was all that work picking apples.”

Proving once again the truth behind the old “apple a day” adage.

LOS ALTOS, CA – OCTOBER 19: Lloyd Lettis smiles while playing his first tennis match as a 100 year old, Monday morning, Oct. 19, 2020, with fellow retirees at Los Altos High School in Los Altos, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 



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