Anthony Perkins, seeded first in this weekend’s USTA national men’s 35-and-over indoor tennis championships in Brunswick, said a 2007 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis changed him.

In a good way.

“It made me more competitive,” he said. “It drives me a little bit more.”

Perkins, 36, grew up in England, earned his college degree from Drake University in Iowa and settled in Kansas City, where he teaches tennis.

The first time Perkins felt the effects of multiple sclerosis – a disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system – his left arm, left leg and left side of his face went numb. The second time, he lost feeling from the chest down and his taste buds didn’t work.

“It’s a bizarre disease,” he said. “It affects different people in different ways. Some people are in a wheelchair after two weeks and some people never have anything happen again.”

Perkins, who has weaned himself off medications with unwanted side effects, is a believer in physical fitness and Vitamin D. Other than occasional tingling in a hand or foot, he said four years have passed since his last episode.

He’s scheduled to make his Maine debut Thursday in one of the USTA’s four major tournaments for men age 35 and older. Play continues through Sunday at Maine Pines Racquet & Fitness in Brunswick.

“I’ve played a few of the other (national) events,” Perkins said. “A lot of the players have talked about this tournament, said they put on a good show.”

The Category 1 tournament includes a field of 24 for singles and 12 teams for doubles. Registered players come from as far as Virginia, Florida and California.

It remains the only 35-and-over major tournament played indoors. The others are in Arizona (hardcourts), Florida (clay) and Philadelphia (grass).

“Category 1 usually attracts some of the better players in that age group in the country,” said Brian Powell of Kennebunkport. “As far as rankings go, it’s the most points available.”

Powell, 47, will play singles as well as doubles, with partner Brian Mavor, 52, of Windham. The singles field includes six Mainers: Powell, Joe Moore of Orrs Island, James Levesque of Bowdoin, Jeff Estabrook of Brunswick, Robert Disch of Waterville and Cory Berry of Brunswick.

“I’ll be one of the older guys there,” Powell said. “Usually I’d be in 45-and-over (tournaments) but because it’s so close, it will be good practice for me to play.”

Perkins, the top seed from Kansas, placed third in the Arizona tournament, just ahead of Michael Halpern of Boca Raton, Florida. Halpern is seeded fourth in Brunswick, behind Perkins, defending champion Francois Castejon of San Diego and the 2015 champ, Paulo Barros of Fort Myers, Florida.

Prize money is $1,200 for the singles winner and the same amount to be split between doubles winners. Runners-up receive $500 for singles and $250 each for doubles.

The tournament is open to the public. Admission is free.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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