Don't ever disturb 90-year-old June Bates on a Thursday - that's her tennis day.
This remarkable great grandmother who continues to drive, is an active member of a variety of social groups and plays tennis weekly, celebrated a birthday milestone this week.
The former East Maitland Public School teacher turned 90 on Wednesday, June 23 and marked the occasion with a birthday bash last week. She was also surprised with a mystery getaway with her two daughters - Megan Wesley who lives and teaches in Coolah and Jenny Randall, also a retired teacher from Bolwarra.
"The girls told me to just pack and bag and prepare for a three night stay - I have no idea where but I'm a bit excited about it," she said.
Born and bred in Maitland June had a happy childhood growing up in Horseshoe Bend where her father ran a shop and she and her siblings played tennis on the family court. "We were brought up with tennis," she said. "My three sisters were very good players - my brother as well. I was the youngest so I wasn't involved with the rolling or the marking of the courts. We all had a lovely time growing up in the Bend."
June attended Horseshoe Bend Public and Maitland Public schools and later Maitland Girls High School. She went to Armidale Teachers' College before her first school posting in Sydney followed by Broken Hill and then back to Maitland.
"When I returned I started teaching at Maitland Public School then I worked at East Maitland Public School where I spent 17 years," she said. June retired in 1986.
Her husband John, whom she met during her teaching stint in Broken Hill, passed away in 1991.
Apart from tennis, the grandmother of four and great grandmother of six also enjoys gardening and being an active Probus Club and CWA member. "Keeping my mind and body active and socialising keeps me going," June said. "You have to get out and about with other people and enjoy their company." June said she had a recent check up with her GP and received a clean bill of health. "I'm a war widow and Veterans' Affairs look after me extremely well," she said.
And as for the tennis? "Thursday is my special day with Thornton Tennis Club where I have made some wonderful friends and I'm very fortunate I can continue to play.
"I never thought I would reach 90 and I have to say I have had a wonderful life," she said. "I'm fortunate enough to have great neighbours and family - my family is just everything to me."
June said she will continue to play tennis for as long as she can.
"I have to be careful I don't fall over, so I don't run for any of the good shots - I just say congratulations and well done to my opponent."