Len’s lucky stars

LUCKY ESCAPE: Michael Rowbottom, Len and Jill Mayo, and Suzy Grantham celebrate Len's recovery with members of the Port Augusta Tennis Association.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Michael Rowbottom, Len and Jill Mayo, and Suzy Grantham celebrate Len's recovery with members of the Port Augusta Tennis Association.

“No way, I’ve got a tennis match to finish here,” Len Mayo said defiantly as he was lifted into an ambulance.

75-year-old Len suffered a cardiac arrest during his Grand Final of the Twilight Tennis season and was unaware of the chaos and distress that had been unfolding around him.

Collapsing in the opening set of the match, quick thinking from his opponent and players on a nearby court saved his life. 

“I didn’t know much after I collapsed,” Len recalled.

“My wife was playing against a paramedic on the next court, so that was very lucky, and I was playing against a nurse. We had everyone there at our beckoning. They got onto it straight away.”

Two other players rushed to the Central Oval Complex to retrieve a defibrillator. The equipment was instrumental in restarting Len’s heart.

Six weeks since the incident and both Len and Jill are thankful for the circumstances surrounding what could have been a devastating night for the Mayo family.

“We are both in our seventies and people say ‘What are you still doing playing tennis anyway?’, But if it wasn’t for tennis we wouldn’t have been so lucky. We had the people who knew what to do right at hand,” Jill said.

In light of the event, the Port Augusta Tennis Association (PATA) underwent a review of its emergency procedures and quickly came to the resolution that they would purchase their own defibrillator. 

PATA President Michael Rowbottom said the Association was approached by members who were hoping to donate to the cause.

Members rallied together raising well over the limit, with the Mayo family donating $500 of their own money.

“I’ve been taken aback by the generosity of a lot of people,” Mr Rowbottom said.

“We are going to certainly get a good defibrillator, but it will also enable us to get a better first aid kit – far better than what we have got.

“We might even be able to do some first aid training or some resuscitation training with anything that is left over.”

Len underwent a triple bypass surgery and is now making a full recovery, enjoying every aspect of his rehab.

He said he is counting down the weeks until he can step on court again.