FORTY-PLUS LOVE

SPORTS Stop by SMU on most any weekday and you are likely to see DENNIS RALSTON, Dallas’ best-known tennis star, cheating Father Time.

Once the United States’ top-ranked player (1964-66), Coach Ralston now schools his Mustang men’s tennis team on the finer points of the game. Ralston, 49, is in vintage form.

And he’d better be. In late February, Ralston will return to competitive tennis, playing a senior tour event in Indian Wells, Calif.

Big deal? It is for Ralston, who has undergone seven knee operations, the last in May of 1991. “After my last knee operation, I didn’t know how many more tournaments I would play,” Ralston says. “Then I met BOB KING, the strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Mavericks. Since May, I’ve been working really hard with him. Now I feel 10 years younger.”

But SMU’s would-be stars shouldn’t feel neglected. Ralston won’t shirk his duties during the attempted comeback.

“In fact, I’ve probably grown closer to the team,” Ralston says. “A year ago, I couldn’t really get out there and hit with them. All I could do was watch. Now, I can step onto the other side of the net and see things I haven’t seen before.”

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