Not only has the sport of tennis allowed Peter Smith to travel the world and represent his country, the Belmont Shore resident is, “Using tennis to stay alive, baby!”

“You get a little bit older and you need these goals and reasons to get up and out of bed and take care of business and take care of your health,” he said. “The goal for me was to play in this international competition which is something I haven’t done before, (play) for the United States.”

Last month, Smith, 60, went to Mexico City for the World Tennis Masters Tour’s Von Cramm Cup organized by the International Tennis Federation. There he competed with a four-man American team and won the 60-year-old men’s division championship.

“It was an incredible feeling to win that last point and know that you represented your country and you won,” Smith said.

Smith’s Long Beach ties are strong on and off the tennis court. He won conference championships as a player at Long Beach State, and, after two seasons as a professional, he returned to coach at Long Beach State for four years. He later coached men’s tennis at Fresno State, Pepperdine and USC, where he coached for 17 seasons.

While at the Beach, Smith met his wife, Tammie, who is the daughter of famous Dirtbags baseball coach Bob Westhoff.

Smith was inducted into the LBSU Hall of Fame in 2011.

“We live about two blocks from where I lived in college,” Smith said. “I love Long Beach. I love walking down Marine Stadium in the morning; it’s just a really special place.”

Smith currently works as the general manager and director of tennis at the Jack Kramer Club in Palos Verdes. Turning 60 this year motivated him to find the International Tennis Federation’s Masters Tour, which provides tournaments like the Von Cramm Cup specifically for elite players between the ages of 50 and 60.

After performing well in other ITF events, Smith was chosen to join Bill Moss, Thomas Coulton and Polo Cowan as the 60 Men’s American squad. They only had a day to practice on the clay courts at altitude in Mexico City.

“We had a great team, and we had a lot of fun off the court. That made it very easy for us to gel on the court,” Smith said.

The Americans went undefeated through the group stage of the 16-country division. Two singles matches and a doubles match decided which team advanced. Smith played both singles and doubles with a specific plan.

“Playing at altitude helped my style of a basher,” he said. “That wouldn’t work well at sea level on clay, but at altitude, I just turned it into a hardcourt and played very aggressively.”

A thrilling victory over France in the final clinched the championship for the Americans, but Smith said the narrow victory over Spain in the semifinals was also a high point because of the international interaction.

“They just had great attitudes, even after losing that close match,” Smith said. “It’s what competition should be. Everyone is playing hard and then when you’re done you kind of slap each other on the back and go forward.”

Smith’s virtuous approach to tennis comes from a long career of instruction. At 23, Smith was the youngest Division I men’s head tennis coach when he took the top job at LBSU from 1988 to 1991.

“I fell in love with coaching right away. I love helping people,” Smith said. “That was something I didn’t know was within me. You could kind of build and make things better. It was a real rush to have a kid struggling in class, or with his forehand, and you’re able to really help them.”

Smith later helped the USC Trojans win three NCAA National Championships from 2009 to 2011 before retiring in 2019. He’s also instructed Long Beach youth players at Billie Jean King Courts and El Dorado Park.

The ITF World Tennis Masters Tour offers tournaments for players from 30-90 years old, and Smith said he wants to keep competing for as long as he can.